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New tip sends investigators digging for Jimmy Hoffa -- again

June 17, 2013|By Matt Pearce
  • FBI agents search a field outside Detroit for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.
FBI agents search a field outside Detroit for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. (Bill Pugliano / Getty Images )

Jimmy Hoffa, arguably America's missingest man, gets another dig.

Federal investigators, armed with shovels and a warrant, swarmed a field in Oakland Township outside Detroit on Monday in search of the body of the former Teamsters boss after yet another tip in the decades-long investigation.

And again, officials are optimistic that, this time, they'll find him.

On July 30, 1975, Hoffa, a famed union leader with mob ties, left the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Mich., and was never seen again.

At various times, officials have scoured an organized-crime-controlled sanitation company, landfills, construction projects, a horse barn (which the searchers knocked down), a swimming pool and a driveway.

What happened to Hoffa has become one of America's most enduring questions -- to the point that his name has outlasted some of the institutions associated with his disappearance.

For years, pranksters phoned the Machus Red Fox asking the wait staff to page Hoffa, but then the restaurant shut down. For years, Giants and Jets fans joked that he was buried beneath the end zone of New Jersey's Meadowlands football stadium, but then the stadium was torn down.

The tone for the hunt was struck early, when in 1975, Michigan's attorney general, a gaggle of reporters and state police ripped up a 40-acre field outside Detroit on the word of a tipster. Astrologists divined that Hoffa was near a stream, or in a ditch, perhaps.

The spigot of tips has never run dry. One held that Hoffa's body had been trash-compacted inside a car and shipped overseas, and then a recent one, in 2011, saw Hoffa's driver claiming his boss had been whacked and secreted inside the foundation of the Renaissance Center, General Motors' headquarters.

The latest lead comes from an 85-year-old Hoffa acquaintance, Anthony Zerilli, whose website has already geared up for the doubters.

"Many wannabe gangsters and wannabe mob associates have written books and told stories, claiming that they know what happened to Hoffa, and leading the naive public to believe them. They have made millions of dollars in book and movie deals, telling lies and deceiving people," reads the About Us section of "The truth is, only a few people in this world actually knew what really happened to Hoffa. None of them have ever spoken up … until now!"

Zerilli's claim: Hoffa is buried beneath the concrete slab of a different barn in a field -- this barn, as opposed to the last one, has already been knocked down -- and the cops just need to go dig him up.

Zerilli, his attorney David Chasnick told reporters Monday, “is thrilled that this is finally coming to an end. It’s been an arduous process to get to this point. He is absolutely thrilled that the Hoffa family may get peace from this, from what they discover over in the field."

Zerilli did not go into the particulars of how Hoffa got there, but noted that, of course, you could find the whole, true story on, where you can download a copy of Zerilli's story for $4.99. ("Due to the overwhelming request for his personally autographed photos, Mr. Zerilli is offering the following 8.5" x 11" professional color photos for purchase, with the option for a personally signed photo," the website adds. Those cost $9.99, or $22.99 with the autograph.)

So is this the true account of Jimmy Hoffa's demise, and the field his true final resting place?

Robert Foley, head of the local FBI office, told reporters that he couldn't go into detail -- the warrant was sealed, as the case remains, of course, under investigation.


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