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August 26, 2019

Detectives are using credit card info to track final days of dead Saudi sisters found duct-taped together in Riverside Park

November 2, 2018
Police released photos of Tala Farea, 16, and her older sister Rotana Farea, 22, in the hopes that someone recognizes them from the day they went into the water. (NYPD)

The Saudi sisters found duct-taped together on the banks of the Hudson River arrived in Manhattan in early September, and investigators are reviewing credit card history to track their last day before their deaths, police said Thursday.

Tala Farea, 16, and her older sister Rotana Farea, 22, were last seen in Fairfax, Va., where they lived, on Aug. 24. They then traveled through D.C. and Philadelphia before arriving in Midtown Manhattan around Sept. 1, Deputy Commissioner Phillip Walzak, the NYPD’s top spokesman said Monday.

“Detectives are in New York City in the area of Manhattan, going to hotels, restaurants, boutiques, etc., trying to find additional electronic movements of their actions, video, eyewitness accounts and so forth,” Walzak said. Investigators are looking at credit card activity after Sept. 1 as well, he said.

The sisters’ mom reported them missing on Sept. 12, and their bodies surfaced near the river off W. 68th St. in Riverside Park Oct. 24, one duct-taped on top of the other in a cross-like configuration.

Detectives do not believe their bodies were deliberately positioned that way. The sisters also had their sandals duct-taped to their feet, police sources said.

“We continue to view all possibilities, homicide, accident or suicide as outcomes, but we don’t have trauma to the body,” Walzak said Monday.

Walzak didn’t say how they traveled, what they bought, or whose credit cards they used, though he said some of their purchases were transportation-related.

“We believe they have been together throughout this journey,” he said.

The sisters moved to the U.S. from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in mid-2015, sources said.

They first ran away from home in December, and when police found them, Tala had been placed in an apartment building, described as a shelter, away from their mother, according to

Family members said the sisters were seeking asylum in the U.S, and the Saudi government had ordered the entire family home, police said. Detectives haven’t found any connection between the Saudi government and their deaths, he said.

Despite earlier reports, Walzak said the two sisters had social media accounts, but hadn’t updated them for some time.

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