Two Saudi Arabian sisters whose bodies were found duct-taped together on the banks of the Hudson River are believed to have entered the water alive. New York City police made the pronouncement Wednesday but have yet to establish how the pair died, per the AP. Investigators say there were no obvious signs of trauma, which may "rule out a theory they jumped into the river from the George Washington Bridge" sometime before Oct. 24, per CBS New York. Rotana and Tala Farea, who moved with family members to Fairfax, Va., in 2015, had been reported missing on Aug. 24. However, a relative tells Arab News that 16-year-old Tala had followed her 22-year-old sister to New York without permission.
"The mother had to file a missing case report to the police over her daughter’s disappearance, but the search was called off later when they found Tala was with her sister, Rotana," who had moved to the city to study, the relative says. "The police told their mother that since her younger daughter was safe with an adult, it's safe to call off the search." A day before the bodies were found, their mother was reportedly contacted by a Saudi official who said the family would have to leave the US because the sisters had applied for political asylum. Meanwhile, the consulate of Saudi Arabia in New York has appointed a lawyer to "follow the case closely," per a statement. Read more on the case here. (Read more Hudson River stories.)