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Widow sues for information on Falcon Lake killing

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Tue September 20, 2011
Tiffany Hartley's husband, David, left, was killed while on a personal watercraft on Falcon Lake, between Texas and Mexico.
Tiffany Hartley's husband, David, left, was killed while on a personal watercraft on Falcon Lake, between Texas and Mexico.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiffany Hartley is suing for information about her husband's death
  • David Hartley was killed on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake last year
  • The widow testified at a Congressional field hearing

(CNN) -- Almost a year has passed since Tiffany Hartley's husband was shot and killed while on a personal watercraft on Falcon Lake, which sits on the border and is shared between Texas and Mexico.

Now she has sued the State Department, the Justice Department and the FBI in an attempt to get answers about what happened that day and why no one has been brought to justice in the killing of David Hartley.

It is believed that he was shot by members of the Zetas drug cartel, but no one has been arrested or even named as a suspect in his death.

With the help of Judicial Watch, an organization dedicated to investigating corruption, Tiffany Hartley filed the three freedom of information act lawsuits Friday.

"We are just requesting information, anything regarding our case," she told CNN affiliate KRGV on Monday. "It's a disgrace that as a wife and as a victim who was there, to not release anything."

David Hartley's mother, Sue Hartley, said the family was desperate for any information from the investigation.

"I think they've shut the door on finding David. I'm still begging for help," she said.

Tiffany Hartley spoke Monday after testifying at a congressional field hearing in Brownsville, Texas.

She recounted the story of how, ahead of a move back to Colorado from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the couple decided to enjoy Falcon Lake one last time. The crossed the lake on their Sea-Doo personal watercraft into Mexican waters, to the submerged ruins at Viejo Guerrero.

It was on their way back to the U.S. side of the lake that armed men started shooting at them, she said. David Hartley was shot in the head, and Tiffany Hartley was unable to retrieve his body as the bullets kept coming.

"It's only by the grace of God that I am here today," she testified.

Her information requests to the government agencies were simply an attempt to get information that she wasn't getting from investigators on either side of the border.

A Mexican investigation to look for the body and find the killers dried up after the lead investigator was found decapitated.

Early on, authorities surmised the couple had stumbled into the middle of a drug transaction, as the area is widely known as a Mexican drug cartel's stomping ground. Zapata County Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez said there were reports of fishermen on the lake being warned away from the Mexican side as long as a year before Hartley's shooting.

Gonzalez, who patrols the Falcon Lake area, testified that he knew the names of people who were possibly among the shooters and had information on where the orders to shoot came from. Unfortunately, he said, Mexican officials have not moved forward with anything.

"The men who murdered David are right across the river. They aren't in Afghanistan; they aren't in Iraq. They're in our own backyard. The cartel members are taking over Mexico, and they are killing anyone who gets in their way," Tiffany Hartley said.

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