Search for Body Continues in Mexican Pirate Attack

Mexican cops called off news conference to release names, likely fearing cartel.

ByABC News
October 10, 2010, 8:04 AM

Oct. 10, 2010— -- Family of the Texas man allegedly killed in a Mexican pirate attack said today it doesn't believe anyone will ever be arrested, even though officials south of the border have named two suspects.

"I doubt that they ever make an arrest," said Bob Young, father-in law of David Hartley, whose wife, Tiffany, says he was gunned down by marauding pirates 10 days ago when the two were Jet Skiing on Falcon Lake, along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I don't know, and as far as finding the body all we can do is hope," Young said.

Just days after questioning Tiffany Hartley's account of the incident, Mexican investigators said Saturday night they had identified two Zeta drug cartel members as suspects in David Hartley's killing.

But officials unexpectedly called off a news conference Saturday night at the last minute, and instead quietly released the information about the suspects.

"It is surely because of the danger posed to everyone by the cartels taking revenge on anyone following up the case," one Mexican journalist who has covered the country's drug wars told ABC News in an e-mail.

Mexican investigators have not found David Hartley's body or the Jet Ski he was riding, and have had their search interrupted more than once by attacks from suspected drug cartel gunmen.

Tiffany Hartley said today she at least hopes that with the naming of the suspects, Mexican police might be able to find her husband's body.

"I hope that its going to, you know, bring David home," she said. "Hopefully, they can tell us where he is and locate, you know, where he's at so we can kind of end this. As long as we find him, you know, then we can at least kind of bring some closure to this."

The two suspects were identified Saturday night as Pedro Saldiva Farrias, 27, and his brother, Jose Manuel Saldiva Farrias, whose age was not given.

Juan Carlos Ballesteros, an investigator with the state prosecutor's office of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, said both were said to be suspected members of the Zeta drug cartel from Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, near the abandoned town where David and Tiffany Hartley were sightseeing before they were ambushed.

Early on in the case, Mexican police had questioned Tiffany Hartley's account of the incident on Sept. 30, saying they could find neither her husband's body nor his Jet Ski, after she said she had to abandon him on Falcon Lake as the marauding pirates approached.

An eyewitness come forward late last week, claiming that he saw Tiffany Hartley fleeing in panic to the American side of the lake.

"I saw the Jet Ski come around an island," the witness told "Good Morning America" Thursay. "There was something wrong actually. The way I saw her come around, it looked like something terribly wrong happened. I mean, she was jittery, frantic. ... She was crying, sobbing."

As a safety precaution, the witness spoke in shadow and with voice alteration to avoid identification, because he said he feared for his life.

What the witness did not see -- what apparently no one but the alleged victims and attackers saw -- was what exactly happened on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, which straddles the border between Texas and Mexico.

Tiffany Hartley said she and her husband took Jet Skis to the Mexican side of the lake to take pictures of a small church when suddenly a band of Mexican pirates opened fire on them with assault rifles.