Judicial Watch launches investigation into David Hartley murder
Colorado native Tiffany Hartley is still seeking justice for her husband, David, who was murdered on the Texas-Mexico border last September. Frustrated with the government's inaction she has turned to watchdog organization Judicial Watch, which will begin an investigation into the murder, believed to have been carried out by Mexican drug cartel pirates. This follows a press conference held yesterday by Texas Representative Ted Poe to bring attention to the case.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions there," says Chris Farrell, Director of Research and Investigations for Judicial Watch. "The State Department, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have essentially washed their hands of any active involvement or any sort of efforts to encourage or support or conduct any kind of liaison with their Mexican counterparts."
The Hartley's were jet-skiing on Falcon Lake, which spans the Mexico-Texas border, September 30 when gunmen opened fire on them. David was shot and fell into the water while Tiffany was forced to flee to save her life. David's body has not been recovered. Farrell says the investigation has been left in the hands of the Zapata County Sheriff.
"There is nothing wrong with that, but you would think with the international situation we're in with Americans killed in Mexican waters and it being a border issue, it would seem natural that the State Department and FBI would be involved in trying to support the investigation and get to the bottom of it and recover David Hartley's body," says Farrell. "Instead, they've either walked away completely or are remarkably silent."
Farrell says he will collect any and all documents relating to the case from the federal, state and Mexican governments to begin the investigation. Judicial Watch also employs a staff of former law enforcement and intelligence officers, as well as attorneys and journalists who will assist with the investigation. Farrell acknowledges the difficulty this investigation presents.
"In this year alone, 111 Americans have been killed in Mexico and the Mexican law enforcement and judicial system has a zero solvency, zero conviction rate," he says. "Mexicans are either incompetent or corrupt or both, in large part. They have an extraordinarily poor track record when it comes to these matters. That's an enormous problem because the Mexicans are essentially the lead investigative element because of where the murder took place."
But Farrell is determined to pick up where the government seems to have left off.
"I can tell you Tiffany Hartley's number one priority is recovering her husband," he says. "She wants David back. She's realistic about it. She realizes it might not be possible to get him back or it may just be some remains. That's her greatest priority, just to have some respect and honor and to put him to rest. That's her greatest priority, and that's ours. Right behind that is, of course, some kind of justice, some kind of accountability for the guys who did this, but also that the agencies involved step up to the plate and pursue the case."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.