While little remains known about Saudi-born sisters Asra and Amaal Alsehli, the pair were “scared of something”.
Their tragic deaths continue to be shrouded in mystery as more questions than answers remain.
But as bizarre twists begin to emerge, it is growing clearer the two young women were worried.
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If someone knocked on the door of their Canterbury unit in Sydney’s inner west, the sisters were reportedly reluctant to answer, instead staying “tucked in the corner like two little sparrows”, according to one person who tried to help.
From their nervousness about visitors to a tradesman’s “uneasy” feeling while working in the unit, there were signs something was wrong.
Here are eight of the strangest twists in the case so far.
Crucifixes found inside
Two crucifixes were found inside the Sydney unit after the sisters’ bodies were removed, a worker with access to the apartment claims.
The worker said the religious symbols were discovered on the floor of one of the bedrooms, the ABC reports.
7NEWS.com.au was unable to independently verify the claim, with NSW Police unable to comment.
It has also been reported the pair renounced Islam and changed their names after arriving in Australia.
It is not clear whether the crosses were a sign the pair had converted to Christianity or if they belonged to the women at all.
Their car had been keyed
Those who knew the sisters say they seemed to live in fear and were “very afraid of something”.
Apartment building manager Michael Baird, of Transparent FM, said his first interaction with the women was when their car was keyed earlier this year.
“We believed that it was not a personal attack on them because they’d parked their car in an unusual position. And somebody’s obviously taken offense to it,” Baird told the ABC.
He said he was aware the sisters were concerned about their safety.
“I think the girls were very, very scared,” Baird said.
“And we’re not sure whether it was something or someone, they didn’t tell us.”
a strange man
The women had claimed a suspicious man had been lurking outside their unit in the months before their deaths.
“They made a report that they saw a man ‘acting weird’ outside the building – standing between two cars and acting strange,” an employee from the building management company told The Daily Mail.
“We checked the CCTV and saw there was a man there.
“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 sisters also had concerns someone was tampering with their food deliveries and contacted building management in January, but surveillance cameras again found no evidence.
The plumber’s bad vibe
The eerie reports continue, with a plumber who attended the apartment also raising concerns about the sisters.
“When (he) came out of that unit, he said that he was concerned that there was something untoward happening in the apartment. He got a very bad vibe,” Baird told the ABC.
“He was pretty shaken up. He said, ‘I’m never coming back to that apartment again’.”
Baird asked the local site manager to reach out to police, adding that he understood the women subsequently told officers they were fine.
“The girls did not want to open the door; they did not want to participate in any sort of conversation,” another worker told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“The cops said, ‘We’re worried. Can we help you?’ They said no.
“I took one look at those girls, and thought, ‘You are hiding something.’ These girls were very secretive. They kept a very low profile.”
A mysteriously dropped AVO
The eldest sister Asra had applied for an apprehended violence order against a man in 2019, but it was withdrawn and dismissed.
The man at the center of the AVO told The Daily Telegraph he had a “small fight” with the sister, which caused her to be fearful and contact police to take out an AVO.
“We went to court, the three of us and I told the judge what happened. Amaal explained it was just an argument and Asra was frightened but there was no problem anymore,” he said.
He said he was not romantically involved with Asra and had not been in contact with the sisters for about two years, and was “shocked” to hear of their mysterious deaths.
At a press conference last week, Burwood detective inspector Claudia Allcroft said police were in contact with the women’s family, who was cooperating with authorities.
She said there was “nothing to suggest” the family were suspects, nor that the women had fled Saudi Arabia.
But it has since been revealed the sisters were asylum seekers who each had an active claim for ongoing asylum with the Department of Home Affairs and had engaged with settlement service providers in Sydney.
In another bizarre twist, the sisters’ family did not want police releasing images as part of their appeal for information.
Police contacted relatives in Saudi Arabia asking for permission to release images of the sisters, but they refused, according to The Telegraph.
However, a coroner investigating the deaths overruled the decision.
Shrouded in secrets
When the sisters arrived in Australia in 2017, they lived in Sydney’s western suburbs for about 18 months while they attended the local TAFE.
Rita was their neighbor and shared an insight into the sisters.
“(Amaal and Asra) were just really good people. They did nothing harmful,” Rita told the ABC.
“They moved to this house because it was like closer to their TAFE. And they usually stayed up all night and only slept in the morning.”
A man who had developed a friendship with Asra conceded he knew very little about the woman he “met on the street” in 2019, despite them hanging out together.
“She told me nothing about her life like that… I did not go to her home, I meet her out, you know, not in the house,” the man told The Telegraph.
By 2020, the sisters decided to move out and relocated to their Canterbury apartment.
The neighbors at the sisters’ Canterbury address also knew very little about the pair, telling 7NEWS they kept to themselves.
One neighbor said they “feel a bit scared” not knowing what happened to the pair so close to their own home, despite not knowing the women well.
“Every time when I walk past here, it’s always on, it’ll always be on my head,” another said
Police said the pair lived a quiet life since arriving in the country and did not have many known connections in Sydney.
The women do not appear to have been a part of any Saudi dissident networks and had almost no online presence or public photographs.
They stopped paying rent
As the tragic tale deepens, it has also been reported an eviction notice was filed weeks before the sisters’ bodies were discovered in June.
Rental agent Jay Hu said the women had been good tenants since they began the lease two years ago, but something changed earlier this year.
“They stopped paying rent, so my colleague contacted them… they said the money would be coming soon,” Hu told The Telegraph.
“But it still didn’t come… a few more weeks went by and still not paid.”
Hu said the sisters were given a notice to vacate the unit around May.
Burwood detectives have established Strike Force Woolbird to investigate the women’s deaths.
“As the investigation is ongoing, police continue to appeal for information in relation to the death of the two women,” NSW Police told 7NEWS.com.au on Tuesday.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.