Deaths of Va. Sisters Found Duct-Taped Together in New York River Ruled as Suicide by Drowning

Police found no signs of trauma that would indicate a plunge from the nearby George Washington Bridge

Missing Saudi Sisters - 30 Oct 2018
Photo: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Twelve weeks after two Saudi-born sisters were found duct-taped together in New York’s Hudson River, their cause of death has been revealed.

Sisters Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 23, who were found dead last October, died by drowning, according to New York Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson.

“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. The sisters were two of roughly 500 known individuals citywide that committed suicide in 2018,” Sampson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Authorities initially believed the sisters died by suicide by jumping off of the nearby George Washington Bridge. However, further investigation revealed no signs of trauma that would indicate a plunge from the bridge, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at the time.

“At this point in time, we have no credible information that a crime took place in New York City … It is entirely credible that the girls entered the water alive,” Shea said in November, adding that the sisters were last seen with their family in Virginia on November 30, 2017.

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The Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia previously identified the sisters as Saudi citizens who “were students accompanying their brother in Washington.”

A day before their bodies were found, Tala and Rotana’s mother was informed by the Saudi Embassy in Washington that her daughters had previously applied for asylum in the United States after reportedly being ordered home, according to a New York Times report.

Tala had been missing since Aug. 24, according to a since-deleted post on the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to

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