NEW YORK: Police are investigating the deaths of two sisters from Saudi Arabia who were found duct-taped together in New York's Hudson River last week, according to US media reports.
Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, were discovered facing each other and fully clothed without any obvious signs of trauma, police say.
New York city's medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of death, be it a double homicide or a suicide pact. The medical examiner's office said the bodies were not decomposed when found by a passer-by on the afternoon of Oct. 24, indicating they had not been dead long.
The sisters had recently requested asylum in the United States without giving a reason for the application, the New York Times reported, citing police. The sisters' mother also received a call from the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington telling her about the asylum applications, the Times reported.
The Farea sisters moved from Saudi Arabia to Fairfax, Virginia, in 2015 with their mother, and had a history of running away from home, according to US officials.
But investigators say it remains a "puzzle" as to how they came to be found dead on a riverbank more than 400 km from their family's home.
The Saudi Consulate General said in a statement that embassy officials had contacted their family, and added that the sisters were students "accompanying their brother in Washington".
Police released sketches of the girls last week in an effort to identify their bodies.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the city's chief of detectives said there are some "gaps" in the sisters' history, which investigators are trying to resolve.
"I'm confident that when the complete investigation is done we'll have a good idea of what exactly transpired," said Detective Dermot Shea.