FBI hunting for Jimmy Hoffa again, 38 years after his disappearance

The FBI is again hunting for the body of former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, whose 1975 mysterious disappearance remains unsolved. This time: a grassy field in Oakland Township, Mich.

Rebecca Cook/Reuters
Federal investigators stand next to heavy equipment by a field that they are prepared to dig up in a search for the remains of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa in Oakland Township, Mich., on Monday. The latest search for Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 in what law enforcement officials believe might have been an organized crime hit, brought investigators to an overgrown vacant field in suburban Detroit.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is once again hunting for the body of former International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James "Jimmy" Hoffa, whose mysterious 1975 disappearance remains unsolved.

The government executed a search warrant Monday in a grassy field in Oakland Township, Mich., about 45 miles north of Detroit, Robert Foley III, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office, told reporters. The search is “based on information that we have involving the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa,” the Associated Press quoted Mr. Foley as saying. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who spoke along with Foley, said, “It is my fondest hope that we can give … closure not just to the Hoffa family but also to the community,” according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.

Neither official explained what led them to the site being excavated by a backhoe. But Fox News quoted its local Detroit affiliate as saying that Tony Zerilli had said earlier this year that Hoffa was buried in the vacant lot and that the plan had been to move his remains once the initial search cooled down. Mr. Zerilli is the son of a reputed Mafia figure.    

Dan Moldea, author of the book “The Hoffa Wars,” told the Free Press that “this isn’t some screwball.” Zerilli "is the right man at the right time. His father would have to sign off on this,” Mr. Moldea added. He said he considered it "very possible" that the elder Zerilli or one of his associates would have shared information about Hoffa's disappearance with the younger Zerilli. 

Hoffa disappeared July 30, 1975, after reportedly agreeing to a reconciliation meeting at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfiled Hills, Mich., with Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit area Mafia official, and Anthony Provenzano, a Teamster official alleged to have mob connections. 

Since then, there have been multiple leads into his whereabouts that have not yielded results. In September 2012, police in Roseville, Mich., used soar equipment to look for human remains under a driveway. The FBI also searched a Michigan horse farm in 2006 looking for Hoffa, but the investigation did not produce Hoffa's remains, Time magazine reports. 

Jimmy Hoffa ran the Teamsters, at the time the nation’s largest union, from 1957 until 1971. Starting in 1967, he spent four years in jail for jury tampering, mail fraud, and bribery before being pardoned by President Richard Nixon in 1971. He was declared officially dead in 1982.

Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, has served as president of the Teamsters union since 1999 and has been reelected to the post multiple times. 

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