The severed head of a police official investigating the disappearance of an American jet-skier has been delivered to the Mexican army, according to local officials.
The head of Commander Rolando Armando Flores Villegas was found in a suitcase left sitting at the entrance to a military base in Zapata County.
Flores was leading the investigation into the Sept. 30th disappearance of David Hartley. According to Hartley’s wife, Tiffany, he was killed during a jet-skiing excursion on Texas’ Falcon Lake. The lake straddles the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Tiffany Hartley described being attacked shortly after the pair crossed the invisible line between the two countries.
Hartley told police they were chased by three speedboats as they tried to get back to American waters. David Hartley was reportedly shot in the head during the chase. Tiffany Hartley later described an attempt to pull her husband’s body up onto her own Jet Ski.
“I couldn’t get him up, and I just kept hearing God tell me, ‘You have to go, you have to go.’ So I had to leave him so I could get to safety,” she told NBC’s Today.
No body has been recovered.
In the aftermath, a slew of stories emerged about Mexican pirates terrorizing tourists who strayed into Mexican waters on the 100 km long reservoir. Some speculated that the attackers were members of the Zetas drug gang.
The Mexican authorities have not appeared anxious to pursue the case. A week ago, the soon-to-be slain commander, Flores Villegas, told reporters that no one near the lake heard shots.
The local prosecutor, Marco Antonio Guerrero Carrizales, said officials “are not certain that the incident happened the way that (the Hartleys) are telling us.”
However, authorities also admitted that the area around the lakeside is controlled by drug gangs. Investigators were not able to travel to the Mexican edge of the lake without an army escort.
Those same officials were quick to distance Flores Villegas’ apparent murder from the Hartley case.
“The murder of the commander has nothing to do with the investigation of the disappearance and search for David Hartley in Falcon Lake,” said Ruben Dario Rios Lopez, spokesperson for the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office told the McAllen Monitor. “(The commander) was also involved in different investigations.”
That interpretation of events was questioned by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who characterized the grisly killing as a warning from the same gang who killed Hartley to abandon the