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Search for Jimmy Hoffa: So far, no evidence he's under driveway

September 28, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Police officials prepare to drill through a concrete driveway at a site where a tipster reported that the body of former Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa may be buried.
Police officials prepare to drill through a concrete driveway at a site… (Bill Pugliano / Getty Images )

Michigan officials went to a driveway in suburban Detroit this week in the latest search for the remains of dead Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, but found no body at the home.

On Friday, officials drilled out core samples of the earth beneath the concrete to send to Michigan State University for testing of human remains. The results could be available next week.

“We'll have to wait for the test results back from Michigan State,” Roseville Police Chief James Berlin told a crowd of reporters from major television and cable networks. “The sample's muddy clay, so there's nothing visible that would indicate evidence of a body.”

Hoffa, the legendary labor leader whose mysterious death has eclipsed his tumultuous life, was last seen on July 30, 1975, outside a restaurant in Bloomfield Township, another Detroit suburb, about 30 miles from the Roseville site. The FBI, which investigated the disappearance, has said it believes that Hoffa met with two organized crime figures, one of whom was a former Teamsters associate.

Hoffa was never heard from again. Theories about his disappearance have included that he was killed by mobsters who feared his return to union power. The body was said to have been disposed of in the Detroit area, in swamps in Florida and even in concrete beneath the former Giants Stadium in Rutherford, N.J. Tests have been carried out in a number of places without finding any trace of Hoffa.

The latest search was sparked by a tip from an elderly man saying he saw a body put under the driveway years ago and that he thought it might be Hoffa. Berlin has repeatedly said he doubts that it was Hoffa, because the timeline was wrong. Still, officials would be interested if there were any body at the site, even if it wasn’t the labor leader, he said.

“We're not sure if anything is down there. That's what this is all about,” Berlin told reporters.

Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982.

Berlin said the home may have been owned in the past by a gambler with organized crime ties. The current owner is Patricia Szpunar, 72, who said she has lived there since 1988.

She told the Associated Press that police detectives appeared two weeks ago and said they may need to search her yard for a dead body.

“I laughed at them,” Szpunar said Friday as the work began. “I looked at them and said, `What? Do you think Jimmy Hoffa is buried in my backyard?' … They just looked at me, and asked why I said Jimmy Hoffa.”

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