When their bodies were found last week on the banks of the Hudson River in New York, the sisters wore similar black leggings and fur-lined jackets, with their feet and waists attached by tape.
Now, more details are emerging about Rotana Farea, 22, and Tala Farea, 16, of Fairfax, Va., Although much of the case remains a mystery.
The sisters were Saudi citizens and students who were traveling with their brother, the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in New York said on Tuesday.
The pictures of the sisters were also publicly released on Wednesday by the NYPD, along with a call to the public for information about them and how their remains could have ended up on the coast around 68 Street and Riverside Park in Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Detectives have been in Virginia, where Tala had been reported missing in August, Detective Chief Dermot Shea told reporters Wednesday.
“We have made significant progress in putting together pieces of this puzzle to discover what happened,” Shea said.
Interviews with family members and others have begun to shed light on “what was happening in the lives of the two young women,” she said.
“We’re seeing a gap of two months,” Shea said, referring to the time that Tala’s disappearance was reported. “The work of the detectives has completed many of the pieces, but there are still some gaps that we would like to fill out and get a clear picture of what happened in the last two months.”
The consulate has been in contact with the sisters’ family and has appointed a lawyer to continue the investigation, the officials said.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington had called his mother to inform her that her daughters had applied for asylum in the United States , the New York Times reported this week .
A Saudi official told CNN they are aware of the asylum reports.
“Embassy officials have not communicated with family members regarding their asylum application, if this is the case,” the official said. “We are still investigating the full details in this case.”
The sisters were pronounced dead where they were found along the river bank, police said.
There were no obvious signs of trauma to their bodies, police said. The city coroner’s office will determine the cause and manner of death.
Tala Farea had been missing from Fairfax since August 24, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
A publication on the center’s website, which appears to have been deleted, had indicated that Tala could have been with Rotana.