New photos of sisters Tala and Rotana Farea have been released by the New York police eight days after authorities discovered their lifeless bodies bound together with duct tape near the Hudson River.
In the images, Tala, 16, can be seen wearing a black top has black straight hair while Rotana, 22, is pictured in a hijab. The photos come just a few days after NYPD released a sketch of the women in hopes of identifying them.
The Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia has identified the sisters as Saudi citizens who “were students accompanying their brother in Washington.”
According to The New York Times, the Saudi Embassy in Washington informed Tala and Rotana’s mother that the sisters had previously applied for asylum in the United States after reportedly being ordered home. An asylum is a political protection from another country if a person cannot return to their own country, USA Today reports.
Despite the recent discoveries, there are still very few details surrounding why the young women died and how their bodies ended up bound together lying on rocks. However, Chief of Detectives Dermont Shea of the New York City Police Department is hopeful about the case.
Sketch Tala and Rotana Farea
“I think we’ve made significant progress in piecing together pieces of this puzzle to find out what happened,” Shea said at a press conference Wednesday, ABC News reports.
Authorities have conducted a number of interviews in Virginia, where Tala and Rotana lived.
“Those interviews are really unraveling in some way a piece of the puzzle of behind the scenes,” Shea continued in the press conference. “There is still work to do.”
At around 3 p.m., on Oct. 24 NYPD responded to a 911 call from eyewitness Martin Castillo, 40, who saw the women in the vicinity of Riverside Park in New York’s Upper West Side while riding his electronic bike, New York Daily News reported.
“The bodies were on stones. One of them was facing up. She was a woman. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t see how this happened,” Castillo told the outlet.
After arriving on the scene, police discovered the women lying face to face with duct tape around their waists, a police source tells PEOPLE. Their feet were also duct taped but not to each other.
The women were pronounced dead at the scene and their bodies were transported to the New York City medical examiner’s office to determine their exact cause of death.
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The women showed no signs of trauma and, according to ABC 7, they were both fully clothed. The outlet also reported that the victims were in their late teens or early 20s.
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New York Daily News reported that the women were both dressed in black leggings with one wearing a bomber jacket and the other a grey hooded jacket.
According to a post on the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that has since been taken down, Tala had been missing since Aug. 24.
At this time, police have not indicated whether they believe the deceased to be victims of foul play. The city’s medical examiner’s office had not determined a cause of death as of Monday morning.