A tragedy, but no longer a mystery: Two Saudi Arabian sisters found dead on the banks of the Hudson River bound themselves together before descending to their deaths, New York City's chief medical examiner says. Barbara Sampson announced late Tuesday that her office had determined the deaths of Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, to be suicide by drowning, People reports. After the bodies were found near Riverside Park on Oct. 24, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said it was "entirely credible that the girls entered the water alive." He said the tape was "not binding them tight together—more like keeping them together."
The sisters had been seeking asylum in the US, the Guardian reports. Police said the sisters were placed in a Virginia facility for domestic abuse victims after running away from home in November 2017. Shea said last year that sources had said the sisters told them they would rather kill themselves than return to Saudi Arabia, as their family had reportedly been ordered to do, reports the New York Daily News. Police say the sisters left the Virginia shelter in August last year and headed to New York City, where they stayed in high-end hotels until apparently running out of money. They were seen praying together in Riverside Park hours before their bodies were found. (A relative claimed the sisters were part of a happy family.)