The deaths of Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, who were found dead in the Hudson River in October, were ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner’s office.
The two Saudi Arabian sisters who were discovered duct-taped in a New York City river in October died by suicide, the city medical examiner’s office revealed Tuesday.
Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, “bound themselves together before descending into the Hudson River,” Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said in a statement.
The sisters were discovered on Oct. 24 floating in the river near Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Their bodies, fully clothed, bound by tape and facing each other with no obvious signs of trauma, were on rocks near the water, leading authorities to believe they washed ashore.
It was later discovered the women had run away from their home in Fairfax, Virginia, before being placed in a shelter amid allegations they were abused at home. They traveled to New York City and stayed in high-end hotels, eventually maxing out the older sister’s credit card.
People who knew the sisters in Virginia told investigators that they made statements within the last year indicating “that they would rather inflict harm on themselves — commit suicide — than return to Saudi Arabia,” New York City Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said in the fall.
The sisters moved to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia with their mother and two brothers in 2015. Investigators say they believe the Farea sisters filed for asylum.
Their bodies were returned to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 3, and they were buried the same day in Medina.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.