Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Mike Gives Details of the Horror, As a Complicated Family Dynamic Unfolds

by Chivis for Borderland Beat

 "Dear Wonderful Daddy, I know we will make it there and back safely".
Those were the words of 13 year old Cristina Hartsell, in a letter she wrote to her father before her ill-fated trip to Mexico.  Her father, Mike Hartsell Sr. was very concerned for their safety and had begged them not to go.

Left to right:Cristina, Angie and Little Mike.  Crisitna was killed.

Perhaps you also have wondered why, if the father was so worried did he not accompany them on the trip.  Sadly it becomes all too clear and complicated as the Hartsell family saga unfolds. 
As it turns out Mike Sr. could not join them even if he wanted to.  Because Mike Sr. is serving a six year prison sentence for committing prohibited sexual conduct with his now 18 year old stepdaughter Karla.  The sentence was part of a plea bargain he agreed to.  He has both denied the charge and confessed.  His attorneys attribute that to the Huntington’s disease he suffers from.  Surprisingly inappropriate sexual behavior is in fact one of the symptoms of HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE.          

Paul Enlow, Hartsell’s Fort Worth attorney, has been seeking probation or early parole that would allow Hartsell to be with his two surviving children. 

"These kids desperately need their daddy," Enlow said. "Their grandmother is crying, saying they need their daddy and [she and her husband] just aren't able to take care of them -- one, a Downs syndrome child, who needs a lot of help, and this boy, who is so traumatized." 

Enlow further stated "These kids desperately need their daddy," Enlow said. "Their grandmother is crying, saying they need their daddy and [she and her husband] just aren't able to take care of them -- one a Down syndrome child, who needs a lot of help, and this boy, who is so traumatized."

His latest collision with the law was not Hartsell’s first.  He has a criminal record dating back to 2003 which includes a conviction for “family violence”.

There is no doubt the children desperately want their father with them.  However if one simply takes the argument of Hartsell's attorney that Huntington’s manifests in behavior change, it would appear the children are better served with their father remaining in prison. 

A call for comment to the county district attorney’s office was answered by a woman who wised to remain anonymous, saying the office has no comment and that "the case is over with".
Below is an Star-Telegram article written by Anna Tinsley where little Mike recalls the traumactic bus attack

Last week, Mike Hartsell was an ordinary 10-year-old, teasing his sisters during a family vacation in Mexico over the Christmas holidays. That changed in a matter of minutes. He is one of two children in his family who survived a deadly gun attack on their bus in the Mexican state of Veracruz -- where violence has escalated as two Mexican drug cartels battle. More than a half-dozen passengers were killed, including Mike's mother, Maria, his 18-year-old half-sister, Karla, and his 13-year-old sister, Cristina.

 In one of his first interviews since returning to North Texas late Tuesday with his 15-year-old sister, Angie, Mike talked to the Star-Telegram on Wednesday about the horror of that day, four days before Christmas.
He also talked about missing his father, who was recently sentenced to six years in prison on a charge of prohibited sexual contact. His paternal grandmother, Margaret Schneider of Cleburne, is working to get his father released from custody. Mike -- who family members say has been uncharacteristically reserved and quiet since returning home -- said he can't stop thinking about his mother, his sisters and the deadly bus ride he knows he was fortunate to survive. “I couldn't believe it happened," he said. "It feels like a dream.” ‘I want to be with him.
The Hartsells had gone to Mexico to be with his mother's family against the advice of their relatives in Texas, who were concerned with the dangerous conditions there. The American consulate has asked U.S. citizens to use caution when traveling to Veracruz and to avoid intercity travel at night. Mike said the bus they were riding on was driving through a rural area when it was suddenly stopped and he saw Mexican robbers -- who he called "Mafia" -- board.

They shot the driver and began walking through the bus, slapping and threatening passengers. When one of the robbers approached his sister, Angie, who has Down syndrome, his mother told the man to leave her alone, saying "she's special."But "he slapped my sister and my mom went over and started hitting him," Mike said during a telephone interview conducted at his grandmother's home.

The man spoke in Spanish, shoved Maria Hartsell to the floor of the bus and left. Then he returned quickly, this time carrying a gun. “He shot my mom and she fell down," Mike said quietly. His mother fell back on Karla, and as the man kept shooting, the bullets passed through Maria Hartsell, also killing her oldest daughter, family members said.
When his sister Cristina, who family members call "Tina," called out to try to help her mother, she also was shot and killed, he said. “When my mom got shot, I screamed at the same time my sister did and I tried to go to my mom, but my cousin held me back," he said. "Another cousin tried to help my mom, but he got shot. ... A guy near us told me to hush because he didn't want to get shot, too. “The gunmen were later killed by soldiers.
 Maria, Karla and Cristina were buried in Mexico after the family couldn't raise the $6,000 the Mexican morgue said was necessary to bring them back to Texas. He said Mexican officials gave him his mom's purse and he often touches it and looks through it. "I'm thinking about her a lot," he said.

After several days, family members were able to pick up Mike and Angie, who went into shock during the shootings, and bring them back to the United States. Mike has been to the hospital for a sore throat, some bumps and a rash on his hands. He also got medicine for a virus he got from tainted drinking water.
Now all he wants is to be with his father. He went to see him in the Burnet County Jail late Tuesday before returning home to Cleburne. He said he talked to him for about 30 minutes through a glass barrier about what he had gone through. “He said he loved me and I told him I loved him," the 10-year-old said. "I want to be with him. Me and Angie want to be with him.” 
 Schneider and Fort Worth attorney Paul Enlow are trying to contact criminal justice officials, seeking some sort of probation or early parole that would allow Mike's dad -- who has Huntington's disease that leads to mental and physical illness -- to be with his surviving children.

The father, whose name is also Mike Hartsell, agreed to a plea bargain this month with the Johnson County district attorney's office that includes a six-year sentence for committing prohibited sexual conduct, Enlow said.The district attorney's office did not return a telephone call Wednesday from the Star-Telegram seeking comment. The elder Mike Hartsell was convicted of having improper contact with his stepdaughter Karla -- a charge he both denied and confessed to at one point after lengthy interrogation, which Enlow chalked up to his illness.

No one has elaborated about the charge, saying only that it involves prohibited sexual conduct under Section 25.02 in the Texas Penal Code, which notes that sexual activity is a crime between many categories of people -- including stepparents and their current or previous stepchildren.
 Hartsell is on suicide watch at the Burnet facility, Enlow said.Schneider said little about her son's conviction. She said her son was afraid that if he didn't accept the plea bargain, he might end up in prison for decades. She said she hopes there's a way he can be released early from prison to help raise his surviving children. “Little Mike loves his dad so much," Schneider said. "He's the only parent he has left."


  1. Sad... being a single parent with 2 little girls... I sad to see this

  2. Too sad Chivis! Good follow up! Amazing, in a blink of an eye this man's life is completely changed because his family happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and ran into some total #$%@&%! who had no respect for life.

  3. Chivis, your are quickly becoming my favorite Border Land Beat reporter.

  4. Chivis is my favorite BB reporter. And my second favorite forum poster. I like Chivo first, Regia and Chivis tied for second. They should give Chivis a raise anyway for her persistence.

  5. oh yea the kids really need the father and what for to molest them??

    i never knew Mexican prisons let child molester live......

    what a shame this girl could still be alive if they iced his ass in the first place for being a diddler

    ~~~el spaceio~~~

  6. Only a fool would go anywhere near Mexico... They should have listened to their instinct that was telling them that it was to dangerous and not to go...

    There are a couple hundred thousand monsters that need to be killed as soon as possible in Mexico and only then might things begin to change but because the government and military is just as dirty as the criminals it will never happen... Mexico is a haven for criminals, like a zoo for animals...

  7. waaa waa waaaaaa!!!
    everyone knows the god damn dangers in parts of mexico... yet you still wanna be a pendejo and go... well live with the consequences...

    and thats that.

  8. Who in their right mind would let these kids go to Veracruze where the violence is on high alert right now. No one to judge but is no one watching the news from the US. There are certain areas of Mexico, Mexicans won't even travel to.
    Such a tragedy.

  9. First off, my prayers go out to the family.

    That said, I have a question. Has anyone asked the man laying on the ground telling the kids to be quite for his own safety what the fook? How can you call yourself a man as you watch a woman stand to defend her children by herself. I hope he lives knowing she gave her life so that her child would live. Her story can not be over looked, she did not let fear control her. This is the biggest problem from where I sit, too many f'ing cowards.

  10. damm Mexico violence making Africa violence look like Denmark

  11. And this is why I buy my Cuervo on the safe side of the border now.

  12. Were these words quoted directly to you or from another source?

  13. Poor Family, Started with an American Pedophile for a Father and Ended in Mexico by some stupid Narco.

  14. Chivis take a look on dallas news last week a command killed 3 or 5 mexican ppl.

  15. "These kids desperately need their daddy," Enlow said.

    Ummm, I think not you brainless pedophile.

  16. Shock probation can be an alternative in Texas. Occasionally after someone has served several months, they are released on probation. This might be unlikely because he is considered a sex offender and I doubt many are willing to take the risk.

    He is like many with a mental health diagnosis in TDCJ. It is a brutal environment that is not forgiving. Hyper sexuality is common symptom of several diagnoses, but the behavior is harshly judged. Another problem he will face is an unforgiving parole board that has no consideration for mental illness. Most challenged with mental illness end up serving most of their sentence because they get written up because they lack understanding and the ability to follow rules.

    TDCJ is a huge monster that listens to no one outside of it.

  17. too bad this father can not be trusted with his own children. he needs to stay behind bars where he belongs.

  18. Drugs,no just a complete lack of law order,humanity, morals,or decency, for what it is worth at least these bandits were killed. I really do not understand ,on the news last night a article on Venesuela even more murders by far than Mexico? then Guatemala? This is to sad when will it get better?

  19. Still, the dude had a sexual relationship with his kid and blames it on some BS disease. The guy needs to stay in jail, and this needs to rip his heart out so he learns from it. No one has remorse anymore and they blame it on some 'condition'. Horrible. That's like the assholes who shot the mom and the girl (thank god they were killed) blaming their actions on a condition. And seemingly that condition in Mexico is being a Mexican. Imagine that if this horrible excuse of a father didn't touch that girl in the first place. They wouldn't be in this situation, would they? B-landBeat is becoming one horrible story after another, and nothing is getting fixed. When is God going to torch Mexico once and for all, saving the honest people who are getting fucked, and let them start over? NEVER.

  20. Thanks Slow Pokey! I appreciate the comment

  21. I`ve been a "lurker' on here for a year or more, maybe two, and I`ll say this is the most bizarre story I`ve read yet. This poor kid doesn`t have a chance. I`m shocked that no one in the community could help raise the 6K to bury those USA soil. Sometimes stories make me mad, this one makes me almost cry, and I`m a 40 year old man.(Think Mike Gundy here,lol) Anyhow, I hope these kids get the counseling they are going to need. My wife asks WHY do they go to Mexico? I tell her, if your mom was dying, how far would you go to see her one last time? I`m torn here. I now believe that even the Lame Stream Media in USA HAS to acknowledge their is a problem in Mexico and for American citizen. Brutal, truly brutal. And Paz, your doing great. May God Bless you for all you do. From a Texan

  22. I was there that day when the shootings happend I was in the Aile in the bak of the bus.. A professor who sat next to me told me that he saw the car that pulled next to the bus , he said he saw nothing but the letter zzz all over the car

  23. Im sorry little buddy they will pay for eternity son.

  24. All you guys do a great job at keeping the public informed, thank you.

  25. Its really sad about this kids and i feel 4 them but 2 me there dad wants 2 get a free ride, but he needs 2 pay 4 wut he did; TDC aint going 2 give him a free pass..

  26. @Spaceio: he is in Tx Prison not Mx

    @ "lurker" :) 7:13 Your wife sounds like a kind compassionate person. It is easy to sit in judgement, but the grandmother in Mx was very ill and Maria was told this route was safe, we have personal responsibilty but they did in no way deserve this atrocity, the total blame is on the heads of the perps.
    @12:36 The mother instinct has no fear.

    @ 2:57 about the Dallas News, the killings took place in dallas? I searched Dallas Morning News and came up empty, do you have a few more details?
    Paz, Chivis

  27. If the US Consulate posts warnings that are circulated by their wardens all over Mexico why would anyone head to the areas that are deemed unsafe. It is a horrible thing when children are murdered but it is the responsiblity of the parents to keep their children safe. This is a case of doing the wrong thing and being in the wrong place. There is no fixing this now but I hope other parents will think twice before undertaking a trip to cartel country.

  28. If the US Consulate posts warnings that are circulated by their wardens all over Mexico why would anyone head to the areas that are deemed unsafe. It is a horrible thing when children are murdered but it is the responsiblity of the parents to keep their children safe. This is a case of doing the wrong thing and being in the wrong place. There is no fixing this now but I hope other parents will think twice before undertaking a trip to cartel country.

  29. It is tragic to read stories of murdered children. The US consulate posts Warden messages which are distributed all over Mexico and the States by the wardens. Why would any parent ignore a warning when the news is full of stories about violence in several parts of Mexico? It is the responsiblity of parents to safeguard their children. The "it won't happen to me attitude" has proven to be an invitation to disaster and has no place in Mexico during these times. If I was living in a cartel city I wouldn't be asking my relatives to visit over the Christmas and New Years holidays when tourists and visitors are known to be carrying large amounts of money and gifts. Common sense should tell you things are risky at the best of times. Thank goodness I live in a relatively safe Mexican city.

  30. Only in Mexico, tragedy happens and even then the corrupt try to scam 6k from the family for the priviledge of having their remains returned and then only give them 2 days to do it in. Yeah lets ask for cash with a short timer with a threat to bury them in that craphole called Mexico to try to force them to pay up before they have a chance to realize what happens.

    That country is rotten to the core. No wonder the rest of Latin America thinks they are tarnishing the rest of our image.

  31. Chivis, you said "The mother instinct has no fear." Yet the only story I can read or hear is of one mother. I am curious of other stories about standing up to these animals. Can you tell me somewhere to find stories more about resisting their influence?

  32. @iam2thatguy there have been many heros who have resisted the cartels and been killed, I am sure it happens every day. How anout the blogger killed for posting names of scumbags on a blog?

    But the best story that touched my heart was that of Don Alejo, who all by himself faced a fully armed commando that had come to take away his ranch;

  33. Dear Iam2thatguy..I was speaking in general, as a mother and grandmother, the only circumstance I can envision to kill another human is if they were bringing harm to my child. I could see myself attacking narcos as this mother did with my fists w/o giving thought to consequence.

    Do you remember the story in Aca where the grandmother shielded her grandbabies with her body as gunmen shot them? that is another example. the foto was indicative of a mothers instinct that transends culture. (most mothers)

    @candygirl; what you say is accurate for sure and i think her last moments were filled with self hated and regret over her decision. But lets remember who had the guns and who did the killing. she paid the ultimate price, I for one have compassion and sadness for the family.

    @10:52 please don't judge the entire population on the acts of a group of animals. no way do they represent Mexican people at all. and in reality the violence is in 1/3 the country, mostly the frontera.

  34. When you have to write that we will go and return safely about your vacation that is a "RED FLAG"!!!

  35. These poor kids need someone, but not their pedophile dad.

  36. @ CANDYGIRL @ -DEC.30,2011, 6:43AM-U said u live in relatively safe city in Mexico? Just curious wut city it is????

  37. Dear Chivis... sorry for assuming you would have a list of resistance stories or that anyone would have such a list. I had not heard of the grandmother and I thank you for giving me something specific to look up.
    I admit that I have grown up very naive to the problem in Mexico and just recently have started trying to find out the truth. Which by the way, you and the other reporters here help with that so much. Thank you.

  38. @iam2thatguy

    here is the story of the grandmother and the horrific photo:

    no apology needed i wish i could help you, the truth is there usually are not survivors in these killings. I really do appreciate your interest.

  39. To all of you righteous ppl..(hahaha) who bad-mouth drug dealers,this is something for YOU to think about.Dope-dealers dont necessarely force their product unto addicts,Ive never met one(dope-dealer)who shoved dope down the throat or nose of an un-willing addict.And not ALL traffickers order murders & they arent mother Teresa,but you cant compare a drug-dealer to a pedophile at ALL!Pedophiles prey on the innocent & force their will upon defenseless children!!!And we wont make this a racial issue,but someone in this forum did bring it for our prisons in Mexico,pedophiles end up dead the majority of the time.

  40. Drug dealers are irresponsible opportunists who prey on the weak and sometimes very debilitated who have no will power, strength to overcome the grip of addiction, and the ability to follow through on a sound decisions.

    I'm not sure if pedophiles choose to be pedophiles. I think not but they do know right from wrong.

    Drug dealers choose to sell drugs that damage people. They are not mentally wired that way having to satisfy some twisted urge that isn't socially aceptable anywhere. They are motivated by $$$$$$$$$$$$

  41. I didn't thin diddlers made it out of prisons either, Spaceio anywhere especially in Texas.

  42. This is just too horrible. A mom and their 2 half sister and sister gone. Leaving only Mike and Angie now feeling too scared and traumitzed about what they witnessed. Their father also warned them not to go to Mexico. Now they need to be with their father, because hes the one that they need love and support and strength from. Even though he molested their sister.

    Over there in Mexico, nobody even doing something about to stop these monsters from the drug cartels! Not even the government, or the police, because you dont know who to trust.
    A lot of more killings going on there even with innocents too. They are socialpaths, and they just killed and teared apart this family.
    At least those gunmen got what they f***** derserved.
    The mom jumped in front of her daughter to protect her, fought off the gunmen, but to no prevail she was killed. Also her oldest daughters tried protecting her, but also they were shot to death. Why?

    Pray for the two surving members and wonder what will happen next in their lives without their mom and 2 older sisters. :(

    RIP Maria, Karla and Cristina.


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