Hoffa remains sought in a field near Detroit

Hoffa remains: An FBI spokesman said that the agency was executing a search or Jimmy Hoffa's remains in Oakland Township, about 25 miles north of Detroit.

Carlos Osorio/AP
Law enforcement officials block the street to the scene in Oakland Township, Mich., June 17, where officials search for the remains of Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa who disappeared from a Detroit-area restaurant in 1975.

Updated 4 p.m. EDT. 

Federal agents revived the hunt for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa on Monday, bringing excavation equipment to a field in suburban Detroit where a reputed Mafia captain says the Teamsters boss' body was buried.

Robert Foley, special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit division, said the agency and its partners had a search warrant allowing them to dig at the property in Oakland Township, about 25 miles north of Detroit.

Officials are "here to execute a search warrant, based on information that we have involving the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa," Foley said.

He said the warrant was sealed and details about what was sought would not be released.

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, who joined Foley at a news conference, said it was his "fondest hope" to bring closure for Hoffa's family and the community.

Hoffa, Teamsters president from 1957-71, was an acquaintance of mobsters and an adversary of federal officials. The day in 1975 when he disappeared from a Detroit-area restaurant, he was supposed to be meeting with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain.

Since then, multiple leads to his remains have turned out to be red herrings.

In September, police took soil from a suburban backyard after a tip Hoffa had been buried there. It was just one of many fruitless searches. Previous tips led police to a horse farm northwest of Detroit in 2006, a Detroit home in 2004 and a backyard pool two hours north of the city in 2003.

In February, reputed Mafia captain Tony Zerilli told Detroit TV station WDIV that he knew where Hoffa was buried and that the FBI had enough information for a search warrant to dig at the site. He said he answered every question from agents and prosecutors, and had been promoting a book, "Hoffa Found."

Foley did not mention Zerilli's claims in his brief comments Monday, but Zerilli's lawyer, David Chasnick, said his client was "thrilled" that investigators were acting on the information.

"Hoffa's body is somewhere in that field, no doubt about it," Chasnick said. He said his client wasn't making any public comments.

Chesnick said Zerilli told him there used to be a barn in the field, and that Hoffa's body was buried beneath a concrete slab inside the barn.

Zerilli was convicted of organized crime and was in prison when Hoffa disappeared. But he told New York TV station WNBC in January that he was informed about Hoffa's whereabouts after his release.

Andrew Arena, who was head of the FBI in Detroit until he retired in 2012, said Zerilli "he would have been in a position to have been told" where Hoffa was buried.

"I still don't know if this was a guess on his part. I don't know if he was actually brought here by the Detroit (mob) family," Arena said. "It's his position as the reputed underboss. That's the significance."

Keith Corbett, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit who was active in Mafia prosecutions touching on the Hoffa case, said it was appropriate for the FBI to act on Zerilli's assertions.

"You have a witness who is in a position to know, who says he has specific information," Corbett said. "The bureau has left no stone unturned."

Corbett also defended authorities for repeatedly spending time on what turned out to be dead ends.

"Anytime you look for somebody and don't find the body it is embarrassing," Corbett said. "The thing the public isn't aware of, but police know, is there are a lot of dead ends in an investigation."

___

Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.