How strange objects were discovered in Saudi sisters’ apartment after their bodies were found decomposing in their Sydney apartment
- Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were asylum seekers
- They were found dead in their Canterbury unit, in southwest Sydney, on June 7
- Police are treating the case as suspicious but are yet to determine how they died
- A worker at the building said two crucifixes were found in the floor of a bedroom
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Two crucifixes were reportedly found in the southwest Sydney unit where two Saudi Arabian sisters were found decomposing in their bedrooms.
Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were found dead inside their apartment in Canterbury on June 7, five years after they fled their homeland.
Police believe the women, who were found in separate beds and bedrooms, may have been dead for a month before officers discovered their decomposing bodies while conducting a welfare check.
There was no sign of forced entry, no clear signs of injury, and the cause of death remains undetermined although is being treated as suspicious.
One of the employees from their building management company told Daily Mail Australia there were two crucifixes found on the floor of one of the bedrooms.
It is unclear whether the crosses belonged to the women, indicating they had renounced Islam.
Pictured: Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24. She and her sister were found dead in Sydney’s south-west. She filed an AVO against a 28-year-old man in 2018, which was later withdrawn
Pictured: Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23. Her body was found on June 7 in a Canterbury apartment
Investigators have remained tight-lipped about the latest development in the mysterious case.
‘The deaths are still being investigated and police continue to appeal for information which will form part of our brief for the Coroner,’ NSW Police said in a brief statement.
The worker said the women approached them with safety concerns earlier this year.
‘They made a report that they saw a man ‘acting weird’ outside the building – standing between two cars and acting strange,’ the employee said.
The worker said the women followed up the complaint and checked their security footage, but it was difficult to determine whether the man had malicious intentions.
‘We checked the CCTV and saw there was a man there,’ the employee said.
‘But that spot is busy. There is a burger shop there and Uber Eats drivers coming and going all the time. He could have been anyone.
‘We couldn’t determine why he was there, but he didn’t look like he was doing anything untoward, so there was no need to chase it up further.’
The worker said the women did not mention if they knew who the man was.
Late in 2021, the women also told building management they feared someone was tampering with their food deliveries.
However, surveillance cameras again found no evidence to back up their fears.
The building’s surveillance was seized by police shortly after the women were discovered and has yet to be returned.
Detectives conducted two welfare checks after reports from the building management company. One was in March, after the women left food in the building’s common areas.
Police discovered the sisters’ bodies in June after they failed to pay rent for several weeks and the Sheriff turned up to serve the pair with an eviction notice.
The women, who lived on the corner flat above a burger shop, complained about a man ‘acting weird’ outside their building in the months before their deaths
Mysterious case takes a turn
The latest development in the mysterious case comes as police backflipped on initial claims the sisters’ family had been cooperating with investigators.
For weeks, NSW Police assured media the sisters ‘well-connected’ family in the Saudi kingdom were ‘cooperating’ and ‘helping’ with the investigation.
But police sources on Sunday alleged that the family blocked detectives from releasing photographs of the women as part of a public appeal to shed light on the baffling case.
Police confirmed to Daily Mail Australia their photos and identities were released in consultation with the coroner – not the sisters’ family – almost two months after their bodies were found.
Other bizarre inconsistencies have also arisen during the investigation.
Police were unable to explain a delay on the release of toxicology reports which usually takes four to six weeks, despite previously insisting the findings were being ‘fast-tracked’.
‘That is a matter for the coroner,’ police said in response to inquiries.
Forensic police scoured the unit (pictured) in the wake of the grisly discovery on June 7 – a month after the women died
Until now, investigators always insisted the family were cooperating with investigators and had ‘no reason’ to believe the Alsehli sisters fled their homeland.
Police would not release details about the women’s visa status at press conference on July 27 but revealed officers were in touch with the family – who had instructed the consulate to act on their behalf.
Investigators believe the women died in May, around the time they stopped paying rent.
The coroner has not released the bodies of the sisters to their family, although it is understood they could be buried in Sydney.
Police are to yet rule out homicide or suicide as investigations continue.
It’s also been revealed the sisters were both seeking protection from the Australian government as more details about their attempts to build a normal life here emerged.
They had an active claim for asylum in progress with the Department of Home Affairs, it has been confirmed.
Police confirmed the women’s identities were released last week in consultation with the coroner. Pictured are officers at the Canterbury complex investigating the women’s deaths
The reasons they sought protection from the Australian government, detailed in their claim, are not known.
But claims for asylum often relate to persecution or human rights violations on the basis of religion, sexuality, ethnicity, violence or political opinions, according to Amnesty International.
– May have fled Saudi Arabia as teens.
– Had access to money and drove a BMW.
– Both had Australian business names, but police can’t confirm what they did for work.
– Filed an AVO, and then withdrew it.
– BMW was keyed.
– Three police welfare checks.
– Stopped paying rent.
– Bodies found a month after they died.
– Cause of death unknown.
Both were in touch with settlement providers and were on bridging visas.
Reports published in Middle Eastern newspapers on Friday said the sisters had renounced Islam.
The sisters only left the Canterbury unit to study at TAFE, to go shopping or to work, their former landlord from a property they rented at Fairfield revealed to The Guardian.
The ‘shocked’ landlord claimed their mother visited the sisters in Sydney but didn’t like Australia and left after only a brief visit.
Detective Inspector Claudia Allcroft insisted there was ‘nothing to suggest’ their family was involved in their deaths.
The women were not known to be part of any dissident Saudi networks.
The landlord said the sisters, who fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, both attended TAFE in Wetherill Park.
They also both worked doing traffic control for a Sydney building company.
‘I was shocked when I saw their photos, I have no idea how this could have happened. They were very cute and friendly girls, we never had any problems with them,’ their landlord told The Guardian.
When they arrived in Sydney, Asra and Amaal made contact with a refugee agency. Pictured: Their Canterbury apartment block, where they were found dead in June
Asra applied for an apprehended violence order against a 28-year-old man in 2019 but later withdrew the application.
The mysterious deaths have made waves on social media, with many Middle Eastern locals asking why the sisters felt the need to escape the Saudi Kingdom.
One man said the women exposed themselves to danger when they left their homeland: ‘Do not leave Saudi Arabia in search of freedom. You will not find it.’
The Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Sydney has offered its condolences to the family, who are believed to be ‘well connected’.
While the details of the Alsehli sisters’ lives in Saudi Arabia have not yet been pieced together, what is known about their time in Australia begs more questions than answers.
Eight weeks on from the grisly discovery, the case is still plagued with mysteries and inconsistencies.
Both women registered ABNs in 2018 for sole trading to a Wetherill Park address, in Sydney’s west, but police still can’t confirm what they did for work.
They also drove a black BMW coupe which normally costs upwards of $38,000, and lived in a modern, two-bedroom $490-per-week apartment.
A black BMW coupe covered in dust was removed from the garage of the apartment block the day after the women’s bodies were found
The sisters’ car was also keyed in late 2021, but is unknown whether it was a coincidence or whoever damaged their property had malicious intent.
The women regularly went to the local service station for coffee and energy drinks with workers describing them as ‘cheerful’ – but they noted the pair would only respond to questions, never starting a conversation.
There were also three welfare checks carried out by police in the months before the girls were finally discovered in separate beds of their first-floor unit as mail piled up outside their door.
At last week’s press conference, Detective Allcroft confirmed police know very little about the women and renewed an appeal for public information – anyone who saw the sisters in their final days has been urged to come forward.
‘We hope that someone may be able to assist our investigators,’ Detective Allcroft said.
‘Either through sightings, or those who knew the sisters and may have some information on their movements prior to their death.’
SYDNEY SAUDI ‘MURDER’ MYSTERY TIMELINE
2017: Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, are believed to have fled Saudi Arabia during a family holiday – with $5000.
They flew to Sydney, via Hong Kong, and made contact with a refugee centre.
2019: Asra took an AVO out against a man, but it was later dismissed.
2020: They frequently visited a service station around their flat, with locals describing them as ‘friendly’.
2022: Police conducted two welfare checks early in the year.
In one of the checks, the pair were described as ‘timid’ and refused to let anyone enter the apartment.
They eventually allowed officers to enter, but stayed huddled together in the far corner of the unit.
May, 2022: The owner of their Canterbury unit filed a civil case against Asra on May 13.
That action was taken four weeks after sheriff’s officers went to the apartment to serve the women with an eviction notice.
June 7, 2022: Officers conducting a welfare check made the grisly discovery.
There was no sign of forced entry.
Police believe the sisters died in May, but have not been able to determine a cause of death.