The Jet Ski Pirate Murder Case

by Marinka on October 6, 2010

Yesterday, I watched a Today Show interview with Tiffany Hartley, the widow of David Hartley. Tiffany recounted how her husband was murdered by pirates as the couple jet skied on a lake that runs between Texas and Mexico. Her husband’s body has not been recovered and Tiffany, along with David’s parents and sister pleaded with the public to ask their representatives for help. They want the body found.

It was unbearable to watch. A family sitting together distraught with grief, begging for the return of their loved one’s body.

And that’s why it made me feel so terrible to have even the tiniest doubt about the story.

About how not only was the body with the life vest not recovered, but neither was the jet ski. (Tiffany believes that the pirates took the body.)

About how although Tiffany says that her husband was very careful, they went into the waters known for pirate activity, because they hadn’t heard anything about it for “a while.”

About how after the pirates murdered her husband, they pointed their guns at her as if deciding what to do with her and then just turned around and left. About how she tried to save her husband by putting them on her jet ski, but she couldn’t, and God told her to go, go, save herself.

It makes me feel terrible to have doubts about the account, but I do.

It is, of course, entirely possible that everything happened just as she said it did. And certainly it should be easier for us to believe that murderous pirates are to blame rather than a loving wife.

So, what’s my problem?

One year ago ...

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

From Belgium October 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

ehm, you have common sense???

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Glamamom
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

I’m totally with you. Although, that’s some whopper. I can name a thousand, less suspicious ways to off your hubs (not that I’ve considered it or anything). Either way, it’s sad.

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Jane October 6, 2010 at 10:52 am

Ummm did you see Good Morning America this morning…..the cops are with you Marinka, excuse me, Detective Markinka!

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marathonmom October 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

I read that story yesterday but did not see the show. I am not familiar with that lake, but everyone knows to stay away from the border. Even in Houston they claim to have issues with the Mexican drug cartel. I will have to keep an eye out for this story!

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hokgardner
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

I’m suspicious, too. Perhaps it’s because every damn time some “bereaved” spouse makes the news circuits like this, he or she ends up being responsible.

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Tonya
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

I think you’re definitely on to something! Although I’m pretty sure pirates ate the last half of the bag of cookies my husband was saving, also, they dragged me to the closest store and made me buy a pair of cute jeans. I had to! They said they would put my cat on a jet ski and send her out into the middle of the ocean.

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the mama bird diaries
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I still don’t understand why people think it’s easier to kill your spouse and spend the rest of your life in prison then just get a divorce.

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kiki October 6, 2010 at 12:58 pm

i first heard about the story on monday on today show, but missed the interview yesterday. just based on the intial story, i found it too hard to believe. the news reported that she and her husband knew they were over the border, and that the US cannot go retrieve his body since he is on Mexico side. so, was the drug cartel just sailing along and saw these jet skis and started firing? i just don’t get it. is there no border patrol on this lake? i feel awful for his family, though. i hope the US can get his body so his family can have closure. i’m not sure what to think about the wife at this point.

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annie October 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Yeah, I’m not buying it! Has she never heard of the 50 ways to leave your lover? At no point were pirates mentioned. Of course that might just be because it’s hard to rhyme. But what do I know?

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Stacey
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Add me to the suspicious list. Something just doesn’t add up about her story.

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Ann's Rants
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Well just make sure you keep your eye on the blood-spatter guy, Detective.

xo

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CSY October 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

The spouse/significant other is ALWAYS to blame if something happens to a loved one. We are a suspicious society, but I’m with you Marinka. I’ve thought of MANY ways to off…I mean I’ve NEVER thought of ways to make the spouse stop breathing – but pirates? Did one of them at LEAST look like Jack Sparrow or would that be my over active imagination? Yes, I’m cynical – sorry about that.

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Peajaye
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but have you read the latest post of your friend, Wendi? Some guy stole her son’s b’day cake from Costco in Austin, TX. And Austin’s only a few hours away from Falcon Lake, and Wendi not the type to let such a thing go unpunished. And I believe I read somewhere that this guy was last seen in Austin with frosting around his lips, and again, I must reiterate that Wendi is a lovely person, but I’m just agreeing with you that there might be other explanations to this guy’s disappearance other than pirates – that’s all I’m saying.

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Joie October 6, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I completely understand. And in fact, was just thinking about this this morning while reading the update on CNN about the Pettit family murders back in 2007 – the one where the mom went to the bank to get the money, but they still killed her and her two daughters – and the dad lived.

I feel awful for EVER contemplating that he somehow had ANYTHING to do with it. At all. It’s awful. But I also believed that girl with the acid in her face. I completely believed someone had done that to her. And I was SO sad. I felt smacked in the face when I found out she did it to herself.

We hear stories all the time about how a parent goes begging for their child’s life, only to find out THEY in fact killed them. Or any similar type story. It makes it hard to believe ANYTHING anymore.

And that makes me very sad. I keep thinking how absolutely GOD awful it would be if something terrible happened to me or my family, and because of other liars, people didn’t believe me. Devestating.

But I completely understand.

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A Mom on Spin October 6, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Have they looked for him under his life insurance policy????

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Jenn @ Juggling Life October 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I think the Balloon Boy has made us a lot less gullible.

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Heather, Queen of Shake Shake October 6, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Your problem is watching The Today Show.

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Jenni October 6, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I was suspicious too as I watched “Today”. Did you notice that even though she was “crying”, there were no tears?

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Abbey October 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I’ve also been watching the Today show (it’s how I get my news) and I have been suspicious since the beginning. Her story is inconsistent, even when I’m only half paying attention while getting dressed for work.

So they go because they haven’t heard anything bad ‘in a while’ but then go on to say her husband took her there because he’d been researching this particular church on the mexican side for some time, then said they knew it was dangerous, went back to being suprised there were pirates…etc etc. What, was this the only body of water in which to jet ski? Jet skiing not risky enough without pirate potential? Watched your husband die in front of your face, try to drag his dead body with you…and then days later you’re not in a mental ward with enough setatives to knock down a horse? Um, no. She’s involved.

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Annie October 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

One question. What was the pirate booty? Did they kill him for the jet ski or did he carry mucho dinero in his ski vest? I can’t find a motive and she did not do a good job of shedding tears for the cameras. His family was clearly shaken to the core and they didn’t even witness the gruesome event. Very sad!

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GrandeMocha
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Exactly, no motive!

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dar October 6, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Yep, I too smell a Susan Smith around !!!

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dusty earth mother October 6, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I know that if I were a pirate, I would definitely target a man on a jet ski. You know, because they carry loads of cash and expensive jewels while they’re out for a spin.

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alexandra
Twitter:
October 6, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I just don’t know why pirates would want a jetski?????????

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Hally October 7, 2010 at 2:14 am

I had not heard about this story before reading your post. Living in Norway we hear a lot about what’s going on in the big U.S., but some things are left out.

But even without any more information than the link you posted and your comments, I myself would hesitate before believing this story. Some things just radiate “liar, liar, pants on fire”.

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Backpacking Dad October 7, 2010 at 2:56 am

Here, I will make you feel better. When I started reading this post, even knowing what it was going to be about (your doubts about her story and your very real feelings about it) I could not stop myself from hearing tiny Fred Savage saying in his most perked up voice:

“Murdered by pirates is good.”

And The Princess Bride claims another soul.

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Keyona
Twitter:
October 7, 2010 at 5:57 am

She was better off saying the sharks are him and his jetski.

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Jen October 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

This makes me want to let my 16 year old jet ski around the world.

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The Naked Mother
Twitter:
October 7, 2010 at 9:59 am

I’m glad I’m not the only one that smelled the rotting fish tacos around this story . I have to say that I am pissed at this chick. And not because she whacked her husband and followed the apparent trend of blaming a disparaged minority. I’m mad at her for forcing me to question my ability to feel sympathy for a “grieving” widow. I strive to be the type of person that believes all people are truthful and well intentioned until a lie is proven. Although, I sometimes call those people idealistic fools- that’s the type of person I want to be.

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Issa
Twitter:
October 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Pirates have jet skis? Man Johnny Depp was jipped.

I don’t know…I want to feel bad for her, but it just sounds too fake too me. Like balloon boy before her. Maybe the Internet is making us all really jaded?

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trudyj October 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Where does Awesome Dude weigh in on this? It sounds hookey to me.

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frogmama October 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I totally agree with you. There’s something fishy about the story. She retells it like it’s a movie scene. “And then the pirates pointed their gun and the air was still and I looked around and heard God and the pirate turned away and…”

Come on. When you’re life is literally flashing in front of your eyes and you’ve just lost your husband, you don’t have time for such literal thoughts.

Though shit, it’s hard to know, right?

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Deborah October 10, 2010 at 2:51 am

We’ll this story made it all the way to Australia and I said, ” Hmmmm, sure”
in a cynical nonbelieving kind of way.
…and I felt bad.
…but not any more because apparently I was not the only one.

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Jenn @ Juggling Life October 12, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I’m watching MSNBC now (Tuesday the 12th) and I’m thinking we might all owe the wife an apology.

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aWESOME dAD October 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

I think you all owe this lady an internet apology considering that the Mexican investigator just got his head chopped off. Unless you think she did that too.

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Marinka October 13, 2010 at 9:42 am

OMG, she’s really going on a crime spree, isn’t she?

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Mary October 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm

LOL Marinka, that is bad. really bad, but I couldn’t help laughing

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PJ October 15, 2010 at 1:01 am

Come on give her the benefit of the doubt. After my second husband disappeared in the everglades everyone in his family thought I had something to do with it. I mean he got out the car to take a leak and was attacked by a alligator. It sounds unbelievable but its true! His body was never found and the worst part was when the suspicions started. My husbands sister, then his mother; my own mother ask me “if I did it?” Detectives harrassed me and I was forced to resign from my job. My children started to believe it too. I began to see it in their eyes. I didn’t do it but they all think I did because of the huge insurance policy we had taken out on him months earlier. His family claims our relationship was in peril and his sister claims the man I’m seeing now and I were involved while my husband was alive. THIS IS NOT SO! She. also made claims that my first husbands death was a homicide(the coroner ruled it accidental electrocution) . My life has become like a bad movie and I sympathize with this poor soul. I hope she gets past it and heals the wounds.

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Helen October 15, 2010 at 10:53 am

Wow. There’s nothing left to say after the comment from PJ, is there?

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Margie October 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I thought I was the only one who thought this story sounded phoney. I don’t think pirates would have spared the wife. They wouldn’t want a witness. At the very least, there should be bullet holes in the jet ski or her life vest. She had time to try to lift her husband onto her jet ski, I don’t think so. I would have been a basket case just having lost my husband and have a little if not a lot of post traumatic stress syndrome. She was just pretty Ms. Media Saavy and spoke without much emotion. On the other hand, the fact that the investigator was beheaded does add an air of truth to her story. Also a murder on jet skis seems a little difficult as she would probably have to be a crack shot, unless she had help. I hate to think that this story is phoney. If it is true, I have all the sympathy in the world for her.

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Catbird October 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm

OK, I am suspicious. Why jet ski in what has been known as a risky lake when there are so many other appropriate lakes and the Gulf of Mexico between the DFW area where they live and this lake? Why would “pirates” decide to go on a shooting spree and just kill an innocent male tourist and not the woman? Was the husband and or wife involved in dealing drugs? Was this a drug deal gone wrong? Could explain why the Mexican investigator got beheaded. That sounds really cartelish. The Mexican drug cartels have their own rules and their own laws and they have nothing to gain by shooting an American in the head without reason. It just brings more attention and investigators poking around their turf. I heard that there are witnesses to her story of being chased by boats and being shot at. OK, I can believe that part of the story. What I do not understand is why they were there in the first place. That is where the innocence of the story begins to get fishy.

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ZORZA October 18, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Yes why would you want to jet ski on a risky body of water?? No Emotion from day one, parents and family seemed more upset then she ever has been, she must have some really great meds or some damn good self control…I know i would be a basket case if this was to happen to me…As far as the investigator being be-headed, that could be because he was pokin his head around in the drug cartels business and they wanted it to stop…Even if you happen to ask the cartel if they killed this man on the jet ski do you think they are gonna say yes..It really don’t matter what they say they are guilty as far as most people are concerned after all they are the Drug Cartel…So as far as i see it this would be they perfect get rid of your husband scheme..

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