The bodies of Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 23, were discovered October 24 near the Hudson River, two months after they were last seen in Fairfax, Virginia, where they had been living in a shelter amid allegations that they were abused at home.
The New York Post, citing unnamed police sources, reported this week the day before the sisters' bodies were found their mother received a call from the Saudi embassy saying the family might have to leave the United States because the daughters had applied for political asylum.
Shea described the witness as a "credible source" who told police the encounter had been "haunting him".
The pair were facing each other, fully clothed and bound together with duct tape.
A witness told police he saw the sisters praying near the river before their bodies were found.
New York Police Department investigators believe the deaths to be suicides, the official said, though detectives are still investigating the circumstances surrounding them.
They always order two meals from room service, officials said.
The chief of detectives did not say it has been determined the sisters did in fact kill themselves, but said they had discussed it in the past. "But we're not ruling anything out".
The two had previously been placed in a shelter after another disappearance in 2017, reportedly asking police not to reveal their location.
Police said the sisters, who had lived in the United States for about two to three years, were said to have been subjected to physical abuse and may have applied for USA asylum. Shea said they were particularly interested in finding out what happened since they were reported missing and what led them to New York City. Police said reports of abuse by the mother, father and brother against the sisters have been brought to the attention of the NYPD, but have not been corroborated.
Investigators say Tala and Rotana Farea made stops in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia before coming to the city. The sisters also ordered takeout food multiple times a day until the credit card, belonging to 22-year-old Rotan, was maxed out. The bodies don't show signs of major trauma, ruling out the police's initial theory that they jumped from the George Washington Bridge, as indicated by the AP.
The Farea sisters moved to the US two or three years ago and lived in Fairfax, Virginia.
Did the sisters apply for asylum?
"There is a strong possibility... that money was running out", he said during a press conference Friday.
"When the complete investigation is done, we'll have a good idea of what exactly transpired", NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said earlier this week. "We want to get justice for the victims".