NYPD ‘unraveling’ mysterious deaths of Saudi sisters found bound with tape in New York City’s Hudson River

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New York Police Department(NEW YORK) -- New York City detectives have conducted various interviews in Virginia where two sisters from Saudi Arabia were living before their bodies, bound together with duct tape, were found floating along the Hudson River last week.

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea of the New York City Police Department said those interviews are "unraveling" what was going on in Tala and Rotana Farea's lives before their mysterious deaths.

"I think we've made significant progress in piecing together pieces of this puzzle to find out what happened," Shea said at a press conference Wednesday morning, noting that detectives have already spoken to family members and other associates of the sisters to learn more about them.

"Those interviews are really unraveling in some way a piece of the puzzle of behind the scenes," Shea added. "There is still work to do."

Shea released new images of the Farea sisters, which he said were obtained with the cooperation of the family.

The medical examiner's office will determine the causes of death as the investigation continues.

A passerby alerted authorities after spotting the bodies in the Hudson River off of Manhattan's Upper West Side on the afternoon of Oct. 24.

The women were found lying on rocks near the river, fully-clothed, both wearing black jackets with fur trim and black leggings. There were no obvious signs of trauma, police said.

The bodies are believed to have washed ashore with the tide and stayed when the tide went out, police said.

On Saturday, police identified the bodies as those of Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, sisters who had previously been living in Fairfax, Va.

The younger sister, Tala, had been reported missing on Aug. 24, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in New York confirmed in a statement Tuesday that the Farea sisters were students accompanying their brother in Washington, D.C.

The consulate said it has "appointed an attorney to follow the case closely," and that authorities "are following closely and constantly for details on the case including the forensic reports showing the causes of death which have not yet been finalized and is still under investigation."

Anyone with information about the Farea sisters is urged to call the New York City Police Department's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

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