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Crime & Courts

Wife of 'Victim' in Alleged Pirate Attack Defends Story as Mexico Reportedly IDs Suspects

  • David Hartley

    David Michael Hartley, 30, of Colorado, was gunned down in Mexican waters Sept. 30 while his wife, Tiffany, dodged bullets and raced her Jet Ski back to American soil.

  • Hartley Lays Wreath

    Oct. 6: Tiffany Hartley lays a wreath near the site where her husband, David Hartley, was shot on Falcon Lake (AP).

Following suggestions from Mexican authorities that her story may be fabricated, American Tiffany Hartley said her account of a pirate attack that killed her husband on a U.S. border lake is "110 percent true."

Speaking to Fox News' Geraldo Rivera on Saturday, Hartley provided a chilling account of what happened when she and her husband, David, set out on Jet Skis to take photos of a half-submerged church on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake. 

"I stand on what I've told you," Hartley said. "There's nothing else hiding there. I've spoken the truth. I'm telling everything I can."

KRGV-TV reported Sunday that Mexican police have identified two men as suspects in the murder of Hartley.

Police commander Juan Carlos Ballasteros said Juan Pedro Saldivar Farias and his brother Jose Manuel are suspects in a string of murders, kidnappings, armed robberies and fires in the northern Tamaulipas state where the shooting took place.

Both suspects are reportedly from New Guerrero, Mexico -- close to the Old Guerrero church that Hartley and her husband had visited.

Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez told KRGV-TV that he is not aware of any suspects being named by Mexican authorities.

No body has been recovered since Hartley said her husband was shot in the back of the head on Sept. 30 while the couple was dodging bullets from three boats of alleged Mexican pirates. The 29-year-old said she was forced to leave her husband lying face down in the water because she was unable to pull him onto her Jet Ski.

Hartley of Milliken, Colo., said she believed her husband was dead, and recounted the "awful" feeling of having to leave David Hartley behind in Mexican waters. 

The woman's mother-in-law, Pam Hartley, also defended her account, saying, "If you knew her, there would be no doubt."

U.S. law enforcement officials said Thursday that they have undisclosed "information" leading them to believe Hartley had no criminal involvement in the alleged attack on her husband.

Sheriff Martin Cuellar of Webb County, Texas, said Thursday that authorities have information suggesting Hartley's story is credible. 

"Information has surfaced that we can't disclose at this time that she didn’t commit any kind of offense," Cuellar told reporters. 

Cuellar sought to dispel any suggestions that the story was fabricated, saying, "there is indication of blood on her vest." He suggested that the blood -- which he didn't immediately identify as David Hartley's -- got onto his wife's vest as she was trying to lift him from the water. 

Rep. Henry Cuellar, the sheriff's brother, also said that a "reliable" witness on the U.S. side of the lake saw Tiffany Hartley being chased back to shore by an unknown boat.

"A person did see her coming in with a boat chasing her," the lawmaker told reporters. 

Pam Hartley also told Fox News that her family met privately with Mexican officials in recent days regarding the status of the investigation. 

"I'm encouraged that there is discussion going on between the U.S. and Mexico," she said, though she declined to discuss the details of the meeting. "I hope and pray that there's more communications...we just need to bring David home."

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