Police do not know how the two women found bound together in the Hudson River last week wound up in the water, but they do know who they are: Tala and Rotana Farea, sisters who originally hailed from Fairfax, Virginia. The NYPD is awaiting the results of an autopsy before they can say whether or not the pair were victims of a homicide.
The Farea sisters washed up on the banks of the Hudson River on Wednesday afternoon, where someone strolling in Riverside Park spotted them and called the police. Authorities found the women clothed and belted together with duct tape at the waist and ankles, pronouncing them dead at the scene. Shortly thereafter, an NYPD source speculated to the NY Daily News that the incident may have been the result of a "suicide pact." The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner subsequently released a statement emphasizing that the investigation into the sisters' cause of death was ongoing, but the bodies were not found "badly decomposed" as previously reported.
On Thursday, police released sketches of the women, and disclosed their identities on Friday. Tala, age 16, had been been reported missing in late August: A since-deleted post on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website reportedly stated that she might have been with her sister, age 22.
According to the NY Post, police believe that the women floated downriver from the George Washington Bridge, traveling about 110 blocks to land in Riverside Park near 68th Street. NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermont Shea told the Post that the sisters "were not in the water that long" before police arrived, but the autopsy results have not yet been released.
UPDATE: The Arab News reports that the sisters moved to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia, and that their mother—who lives in Virginia—withdrew the missing person report she'd taken out for Tala when she learned the teenager was visiting Rotana in New York. Their family does not believe the pair committed suicide.