Mexico: Probe into Falcon Lake killing delayed by Tiffany Hartley's 'missing' complaint

Mexican officials said Wednesday they still awaited a formal complaint, which would trigger a full investigation into the alleged killing of David Hartley on Falcon Lake.

Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/AP
In this photo taken on Oct. 5, Bob Young and his wife Cynthia hug after a memorial service for David Hartley at the Family Church in McAllen, Texas.

Six days after Mexican pirates on Falcon Lake allegedly shot an American tourist, Mexican officials said they expected Tiffany Hartley, the wife of the deceased, to formally file a complaint with Mexican authorities today.

It was unclear why Ms. Hartley would wait nearly a week before filing a formal complaint into the alleged killing, though it comes amid tit-for-tat accusations that Mexican authorities are not searching hard enough and that Hartley is withholding details about the incident.

The prosecutor’s office in the border state of Tamaulipas said Wednesday morning that it was waiting to receive that complaint, which is needed before a formal investigation can begin into the alleged Sept. 30 killing of David Hartley.

“The official complaint is missing.... Everything was ‘they said this, they said that’ but there hasn’t been a formal claim,” says Ruben Dario, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Mr. Dario said Wednesday morning that Mexican officials expected Tiffany Hartley to visit the municipality of Miguel Aleman and lodge a complaint in person.

The search began Sept. 30 for Mr. Hartley's still-missing body when Tamaulipas state was first contacted by the sheriff’s office in Zapata, Texas. With apparently no progress yet in finding the body or the attackers, Texas Gov. Rick Perry today gave Mexico a subtle two-day deadline to find the body.

"I hope that if [Mexican President Felipe Calderón] calls me within the next 48 hours, that the body has been retrieved," Governor Perry told the Associated Press. "If not, we're not looking hard enough."

Shortly thereafter the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement condemning the alleged murder and saying that authorities have been coordinating with United States officials from the beginning.

“The Mexican government offers its commitment to investigate the death of a US citizen in waters of the Falcon Dam,” the ministry said.

Specialized personnel, boats, and helicopters have been deployed to the lake, according to the statement. It added that Hartley has already given testimony at the Mexican consulate in McAllen, Texas, permitting "Mexican ministerial authorities to integrate the investigation into whoever is responsible for the US citizen."

Boaters on Falcon Lake, a 60-mile area of reservoir and lakes straddling US and Mexican territory, have come under repeated attacks in recent months.

Since April 30, four incidents of armed robberies or attempted theft have been reported on Falcon Lake: one in April, two in May, and one in August. The fifth ambush ended last week with the possible death of Hartley, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In fishing boats, gunmen armed with AK-47s and AR-15 rifles disguise themselves as Mexican police, while others use crude signs to disguise their boats as Texas Parks and Wildlife vessels.

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