FBI end dig for Jimmy Hoffa's remains in Oakland Township

No remains found in Oakland Township but case will remain open, FBI says

By Halston Herrera - Digital news editor

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The FBI on Wednesday said it's wrapping up its search in Oakland Township for the remains of remains of former Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared 38 years ago.

"We did not uncover any evidence relevant to the investigation on James Hoffa," said FBI Special Agent Robert Foley. "I'm very confident of our results here after two days. Plus, of diligent effort. We'll be closing down the excavation effort."

Authorities have pursued multiple leads into Hoffa's whereabouts since his disappearance in 1975.

He was last seen outside an Oakland County restaurant where he was to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain.

Special section: The Hoffa Files

The latest tip about Hoffa's remains came from reputed Mafia captain Tony Zerilli, who, through his lawyer, said Hoffa was buried beneath a concrete slab in a barn in Oakland Township, north of Detroit.

Zerilli's attorney, David Chasnick, says his client still believes the information he gave is accurate. Chasnick says the 2 1/2-day excavation of an Oakland Township field by about 40 FBI agents is commendable, but may have been too limited in scope. Chasnick says Zerilli still believes Hoffa's remains are there.

The barn is gone, but FBI agents on Monday starting poring over the field where it used to stand.

On Tuesday, authorities used a backhoe to dig and move dirt around in the section of land. Authorities also called in forensic anthropologists from Michigan State University and cadaver dogs from the Michigan State Police.

Foley said the tip was credible and had to be investigated for due diligence.

"We double check it and consider other sources. In doing that in this particular case, we were led to the conclusion that there was enough probable cause for us to continue with the investigation and to conduct our efforts here over the past couple of days," he said.

Who was Hoffa?

Hoffa's rise in the Teamsters, his 1964 conviction for jury tampering and his presumed murder are Detroit's link to a time when organized crime, public corruption and mob hits held the nation's attention.

Tips have been coming in for years

Over the years, authorities have received various tips, leading the FBI to possible burial sites near and far.

In 2003, a backyard swimming pool was dug up 90 miles northwest of Detroit. Seven years ago, a tip from an ailing federal inmate led to a two-week search and excavation at a horse farm in the same region. Last year, soil samples were taken from under the concrete floor of a backyard shed north of the city. And detectives even pulled up floorboards at a Detroit house in 2004.

No evidence of Hoffa was found.

Other theories have suggested he was entombed in concrete at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, ground up and thrown in a Florida swamp or obliterated in a mob-owned fat-rendering plant.

Zerilli, now 85, was in prison for organized crime when Hoffa disappeared. But he told New York TV station WNBC in January that he was informed about Hoffa's whereabouts after his release. His attorney, David Chasnick, said Zerilli is "intimately involved" with people who know where the body is buried.

Details are in a manuscript Zerilli is selling online.

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