New York City Police Department311Search all websites

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea Gives Updates on Recent Crimes in the News

November 2, 2018

On the Deaths of Saudi Arabian Sisters Tala and Rotana Farea

On that tragic incident on the two girls who were recovered, 16 and 23 years of age, along the Hudson River: We do have some more information to share. I'll begin by summarizing what we know. November 30th of 2017 was the last time the two girls were seen by the family, that's according to the family, out of the residence in Virginia. In Decemeber, 2017, after they had been reported from November 30th, they were at some point in time located and returned, but not returned to the home. They were returned to a shelter like type facility, due to some abuse like allegations that came up.

As you fast forward, from December 17th to August of this year — essentially about eight months — we do not have contact per se. August 23rd or 24th, the girls go missing from the facility where they had been staying. The family said they had no contact at all during this time. From August 23rd or 24th, we believe the girls took a series of methods of transportation, north by northeast, eventually arriving in New York City on or about September 1st.

We have that corroborated by electronic court records, subpoenas, specifically at least one of uber cabs bringing them to New York City. September 1st, we have them in New York City. That takes from September 1st to roughly October 24th, when they were discovered along the Hudson River.

We are still deciphering numerous volumes of court records. We have them staying at a number of high end hotels in New York City at this time. We have them on video in good health, during this time, as recently as a week before they were discovered. We also have them following a pattern of ordering meals, always two meals, until the best we can surmise that the credit card money started to run out.

That takes us to Wednesday, October 24th, the day the passerby on the Hudson bike path discovered them and called 911. We know as we look back that they were in New York City since September 1st, staying in hotels, we have them shopping at various locations, we have them ordering food at the hotels. When you look at the family members in this case, we have reports that asylum was requested. We also have reports of abuse involving the family — this is not corroborated at this time — but there are reports of abuse between the brother, the mother and the father that had been brought to our attention. this is in another jurisdiction, sometime in the past.

On October 31th, we are contacted by an eyewitness. The eyewitness calls the detectives to my right. He tells us a story that is haunting him. He says he is a frequent exerciser in the vicinity of riverside park. On the exact day the girls were found in the water, he was at the park at around 7 a.m. for the daily exercise routine. He came across in a playground, two girls, sitting 30 feet apart, alone, sitting 30 feet apart and together. They were sitting with their hands on their heads, heads lowered, making noises loudly that he described as praying.

This location, this playground, roughly 158th to 163rd Street, up on Riverside Park area, is a very short distance from the Hudson River. It is believed, the possibility exists, that the girls discovered with the duct tape — not binding them tight together, more like keeping them together — brings us to where we are today.

At this point in time, we have no credible information that any crime took place in New York City. But it is still under investigation. We are still working closely with OCME. No cause of death — although information is that it is entirely credible that the girls entered the water alive. We have them praying the morning that they were found a short distance from the water. We also have sources statements made that they would rather inflict harm on themselves and commit suicide than return to Saudi Arabia. So that is essentially the backdrop of where we are today.

We are exploring all angels. We are certainly looking at any electronic evidence that we can exploit just to try to fill in some gaps. We still have some gaps to fill in. But i thought it was important to stand here today, obviously with the attention it has gotten. Obviously, this is a tragedy all around. And we want to make sure we get justice for the victims. We treat everything like a crime unless proven otherwise. At this point in time, everything that we have seen is pointing to other than a crime taking place. but we are not ruling anything out.

On the Synagogue Vandalism

It was beyond disturbing. We have a picture (of the suspect.) We will not stand for this type of activity in New York City. We have a very robust Hate Crimes Task Force. We are up about one percent in crimes, and that's not the right side of what we want to be on. We would like to push that number down. We had a spike in anti-Semitic reported crimes, in the last 28, 30 days. This is the latest example. This individual went into the facility, a facility where people go to pray and worship, and scrawled some pretty derogatory hate-filled messages along the walls. The 77th precinct, along Eastern Parkway. Anyone with information, please call Crime Stoppers.

We see this particular incident is captured on video. But we see this type of hate-filled message in multiple areas, carried out by different people. There is no excuse for it. Again, we have a Hate Crimes Task Force with dedicated detectives. We make arrests. These cases, they are not easy. This one, we are very confident we will get an arrest. But we need information, whether anyone recognizes this individual, to please call us.

I'll give you a bit of an overview, we can get certainly back to you on specific cases. when you look at the universe of hate crimes in Negw York City, the vast majority are anti-Semitic in nature. And when you drill down on the anti-Semitic hate crimes, most of it is this type of activity: graffiti, or a message crawled on a door or a stoop or a bus stop or a train. Quite frequently, it's swastika-driven. But not all of them.

We had an incident reported yesterday to us, at the African Burial Ground, where somebody went after another group and targeted them with a hate message. It was cleaned up quickly. Most people wouldn't see it if you went to that beautiful location. We will investigate it and follow those leads and bring anyone who feels they need to do this type of silly, hateful activity to justice.

Let me just be clear: if we were standing here a month ago, we would be down and down pretty significantly in hate crimes. But over the last four few weeks, there has been an uptick. Attack, you could take different ways. These things are despicable actions. But, generally, what we've seen is no human contact. It's graffiti, it's leaving a message on a door, ect. We dont have any indication they are targeting one specific person.