The two Saudi sisters mysteriously found dead in a Sydney apartment believed a private investigator was on their trail.
Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal, 23, were discovered in their Canterbury unit in Sydney’s southwest on June 7.
The sisters were applying for political asylum in Australia and a source connected to that case told ABC’s Background Briefing the pair thought a private investigator was following them.
After months of investigation detectives are still seeking clues to discover how and why the sisters died in separate rooms of their apartment, where they lay undiscovered for up to six weeks.
Police are now turning to the Arabic-speaking community for help as they make their first direct appeal in that language.
Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24 (pictured) was discovered in a Canterbury unit in Sydney’s south-west on June 7
Amaal, 23, was the younger of the two Saudi sisters found dead in their bedrooms (pictured, Amaal Abdullah Alsehli)
Two weeks ago police released the names and photos of the two women at the request of the coroner but did not translate their English language appeal for information.
The newly translated request has been sent out on social media and will be distributed to Arabic-language media outlets.
Police told SBS this was a standard practice without commenting specifically on the case of the Alsehli sisters.
‘Translating media releases into target languages to reach specific communities is just one of the strategies the NSW Police Force adopts based on the requirements of detectives investigating cases,’ a NSW Police spokesperson said in a statement to SBS.
‘That is something the NSWPF (NSW Police Force) does often, again, based on the strategy that police are deploying at the time.’
After coming to Australia in 2017 the sisters lived for a period in the western Sydney suburb of Fairfield, which has a large Arabic-speaking community.
The balcony of the unit (pictured) where police made the grisly discovery of the sisters’ bodies on June 7, which was at least a month after the women died
The grisly remains of the two women were only uncovered during a police welfare check.
This was conducted because they owed the landlord about $5,000 worth of unpaid rent having failed to hand over their weekly $480 since mid-March.
Bottles of chemicals such as bleach and other substances were found beside their bodies in separate bedrooms, leading detectives to suspect the pair planned to take their own lives.
Interim toxicology results showed traces of the substances found in the bedrooms inside the women’s bodies.
‘There’s no indication of anyone else being in the unit…no forced entry. It really does appear to be a tragic suicide,’ a police source told The Daily Telegraph.
More extensive testing is needed to determine the exact cause of death.
This is despite an extensive week-long public appeal and releasing the names and photos of the sisters at the request of the coroner.
A black BMW coupe covered in dust was removed from the garage of the apartment block the day after the bodies were found
– 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.
The sisters’ black BMW coupe was seized by police after the women’s bodies were found remains in a police holding yard.
The car is expected to be sold to recover debts owed to the women’s landlord after they stopped paying rent 10 weeks before their fully clothed but decomposing bodies were found.
The sisters also owed $26.18 in outstanding water bills.
Their remains were uncovered during the last of three welfare checks by police, who initially were contacted by property’s building manager who expressed concern for their wellbeing because food was left out in common areas.
Building manager Michael Baird said his first interaction with the girls was when their car was ‘keyed’ after they moved into the building in November 2021.
‘We believed that it was not a personal attack to them because they’d parked their car in an unusual position. And somebody’s obviously taken offence to it,’ he told the ABC.
The sisters sent him an email at 2:25am on January 26 asking him to check CCTV because they feared their Uber eats food delivery had been tampered with and they were considering contacting the police.
The cameras failed to show this.
‘The girls were very scared, very frightened of something, he said.
‘We’re not sure what is was, something, someone, they didn’t tell us so we couldn’t pursue it any further.’
A plumber was called into the apartment to fix water leak in late March.
He phoned Mr Baird as soon as he was finished.
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.
‘He was concerned that there was something untoward happening in the apartment,’ Mr Baird said..
‘He goes, ‘I don’t know. Something definitely wrong with that apartment. Something definitely happening in that place is not good’.’
‘The girls look scared for some reason. I don’t want to go back.’
Mr Baird asked police conduct a welfare check on the two women.
When the officers visited the flat the women at first wouldn’t unlock the door, Mr Baird says.
‘Eventually the door was opened and the police stood at the door, asking the girls a series of questions,’ he said
‘They said they were OK. They didn’t want any police involvement. And the police left it at that.’
Michael decided to go the apartment with his day manager pretending to look for a leak.
‘I went into the unit, I saw these two little girls stuck in the corner, like two little sparrows,’ he says.
‘Really, I was looking to make sure there was nobody in the unit as well that was … causing them to be afraid or timid.
‘I ‘fessed up and said, ‘Look, I’m not really here to look at a leak. I’m here to talk to you … Just tell me whatever it is. It’s OK.’
But, he says, the women wouldn’t speak.
‘They more or less wanted us to leave as quickly as possible.’
That is what Mr Baird did and it was the last time he saw them alive.
Reports published in Middle Eastern newspapers last week 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.
INSIDE THE APARTMENT WHERE THE SAUDI SISTERS DIED
A view inside the Canterbury apartment where sisters Asra Abdullah Alsehli and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli died
The bodies of Asra Abdullah Alsehli and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli were found fully clothed in separate bedrooms of their Canterbury apartment, in Sydney’s south-west, on June 7.
Their remains were uncovered during a police welfare check – conducted because they owed the landlord about $5,000 worth of unpaid rent, having failed to hand over their weekly $480 since mid-March.
The two-bedroom unit which overlooks busy Canterbury Road has since been given a fresh lick of paint and new floorboards.
It has been relisted for rent with a $60 price hike meaning it now costs $540 a week.
Crime scenes normally cause price reductions, but the real estate agent said prospective tenants were interested because surrounding units cost about $580 per week.
In the real estate listing, the unit was described as a place that ‘ensures a life of seamless and luxurious comfort’.
The main open-plan living space which adjoins the kitchen has plenty of light with large glass balcony doors, white-tiled floors and painted walls.
The rest of the unit has wood-panel floors while one of the two bedrooms has an ensuite with both having built-in mirrored wardrobes
The kitchen comes with stainless steel appliances reconstituted stone benches, mirrored splashback, and leaf motif details.
The unit also boasts ‘marble-look tiles’ and ‘frameless showers’