The case of the two young Saudi sisters who were found dead - and bound together - on the banks of New York City's Hudson River has been ruled a double suicide.
In Oct. 2018, the bodies of Rotana (22) and Tala Farea (16) were found in a body of water "with no signs of trauma". On Tuesday, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson ruled the cause of death "drowning by suicide," as reported by The Guardian.
"It is entirely credible that the girls entered the water alive," said Dermot Shea, New York police department's chief of detectives, at the time. Shea added that the "tape was not binding them tight together – more like keeping them together."
The deceased women were reported missing by their mother prior to their bodies being found. Their bodies were then reportedly discovered by a passerby who immediately called the police. Officers were then dispatched to the scene and found the women "unconscious and unresponsive with no obvious signs of trauma."
"Police said the sisters would rather die than return to home country"
In response to their death, law enforcement officials in New York said that the sisters "would rather do harm to themselves than return to their home country."
According to CNN, a Saudi official denied claims that Saudi Arabia ordered the sisters and their mother to return to the kingdom.
According to Akhbaar 24, the eldest of the two victims, Rotana, had been living in New York. The younger sibling had been living with their mother, who is based in Virginia, before visiting her sister. Initially, the mother reported Tala missing, but later withdrew the report after the teenager was found visiting her sister in New York.
After the news of the deaths went public, several rumors surfaced with regards to the girls' mysterious deaths, including claims that they'd been missing for two months. In a statement made public by members of the victims' family at the time, "they denied claims that the two sisters had been missing for two months." They also rejected claims that the two women had committed suicide.