Friday, 6 Dec 2019

Sisters went into river bound together ‘rather than return to Saudi Arabia’

Two Saudi sisters bound themselves together with duct tape then went into a river in a tragic double suicide, medical experts say.

Rotana Farea, 23, and Tala Farea, 16, had reportedly said they would rather harm or kill themselves than return to Saudi Arabia.

The sisters, who had been living in the US for two to three years, were found dead on the banks of New York’s Hudson River last October.

Their bodies were discovered tied together at the waist and lying in an area where "you would essentially walk right into the water".

Now, it has emerged that they died by drowning.

In a statement released yesterday, New York Chief Medical Examiner Dr Barbara Sampson also said the siblings had committed suicide.

“Today, my office determined that the death of the Farea sisters was the result of suicide, in which the young women bound themselves together before descending into the Hudson River," she said.

Dr Sampson added that Rotana and Tala were among around 500 "known" suicides across the city in 2018, according to PEOPLE.

The sisters had been living roughly 250 miles away, in Virginia, and were wearing similar clothing when they entered the Hudson.

As well as black leggings and fur-trimmed jackets, they were found bound together with duct tape, a press conference heard last year.

New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said they were tied at the waist in a way that was "keeping them together".

But he said the tape wasn’t meant to restrain them, CNN reports.

The siblings were said to have likely "entered the water alive". Their bodies were discovered by a horrified passerby on October 24.

Officials initially believed the pair may have committed suicide by leaping off George Washington Bridge, near the scene.

But they were found to have no signs of trauma that would suggest such a fall – and experts later concluded they had drowned.

Sources in Virginia told detectives the sisters "would rather inflict harm on themselves and commit suicide than return to Saudi Arabia".

Detectives used eyewitness testimonies, video evidence and the eldest sister’s credit card purchases for food, hotel and transportation to determine that there was likely no foul play involved in the deaths.

The two had been last seen by family in Virginia in November 2017.

They subsequently stayed at a shelter facility for domestic violence victims until the end of August, according to reports.

They apparently arrived in New York City on September 1 before staying at a number of "high-end hotels", Det Shea said.

According to police, Rotana and Tala had allegedly been subjected to physical abuse and may have applied for US asylum.

A Saudi official denied claims that the country ordered the sisters and their mum, who lives in the US, to return there.

If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing  [email protected]

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