The disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa is one of the most famous unsolved cases in Michigan history.
Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from an Oakland County restaurant on July 30, 1975. Investigators have searched numerous locations and have sorted through countless tips for the last 48 years.
His story is a complicated one. He was a Union man and he helped create stability and strength in America’s workforce. He made enemies in the U.S. government and made friends with some of the notorious gangsters of the time.
Who was Jimmy Hoffa?
Who was Jimmy Hoffa? The Teamsters paint a positive picture of the man, calling him “a worker’s hero.”
According to the Teamsters, Hoffa began working at a very young age to support his family after his father died in 1921. His father’s death was related to working conditions at a coal mine in Indiana.
Hoffa’s mother moved them and his three siblings to Detroit in 1924, according to the Teamsters. Hoffa’s initiation into the labor movement began in his teens when he worked full-time as a warehouseman for Kroger grocery stores.
When he was 19 years old he led his fellow workers in a strike against the company over poor working conditions and unfair treatment. He joined the Teamsters in 1933 and by 1937 he was elected president of a local chapter. In 1957 he was elected general president.
According to the Teamsters website, Hoffa said this in 1964: “While working men and women have long known the value of a dollar -- it is a lesson well taught to one who labors for a living -- it has taken a long, long time to teach employers the value of a human being, and in many cases has not yet been successfully taught. ... Few give thought to what happens to displaced workers, but they can analyze to the penny what the profits will be.”
“Hoffa’s devotion to the Teamsters and their families is legendary. His whole life was dedicated to bettering the lives of all working families and he was a leading advocate in the war on poverty,” the Teamsters said.
Hoffa served as the president of the Teamsters Union from 1957 to 1971, even while he was in prison for trying to bribe jurors during a previous trial.
Criminal charges against Jimmy Hoffa
What were the criminal charges against Jimmy Hoffa? In 1964, He was convicted on one count of conspiracy and three counts of mail and wire fraud for improper use of the Teamsters’ pension fund.
He received a five-year sentence to run consecutively with an earlier eight-year sentence for attempted bribery of a grand juror in a case in Tennessee.
Hoffa ended up serving less than five years. President Richard Nixon shortened Hoffa’s sentence and he was released from prison in 1971. Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975, and was declared legally dead seven years later.
What happened the day Jimmy Hoffa disappeared?
What happened the day Hoffa disappeared? According to reports, Hoffa left his home in Lake Orion at 1 p.m. and stopped to visit a friend in Pontiac.
He arrived at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Oakland County’s Bloomfield Township at 2 p.m. to meet reputed Detroit mob enforcer Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and alleged New Jersey mob figure Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano.
At 2:15 p.m. Hoffa called his wife and told her that nobody showed up for his meeting. That was the last time anyone saw or heard from Hoffa.
It has been speculated that Hoffa was killed by enemies because he was planning a Teamsters comeback. He was declared legally dead in 1982.
Watch Local 4′s one-hour special about Jimmy Hoffa
Events in Hoffa’s disappearance
The following information comes from an Associated Press article chronicling the events in the disappearance of former Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa.
July 30, 1975
Hoffa leaves his Lake Orion home about 1 p.m. and makes a stop to visit a friend in Pontiac. He arrives around 2 p.m. at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Oakland County’s Bloomfield Township to meet reputed Detroit mob enforcer Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and alleged New Jersey mob figure Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano. Hoffa calls his wife, Josephine, about 2:15 p.m. from a pay phone and tells her no one showed up for his meeting. The 62-year-old Hoffa never is seen or heard from again.
Aug. 8, 1975
The FBI gets a search warrant for Hoffa’s car, which was found in the restaurant parking lot. They find fingerprints of family friend Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien on a 7-Up bottle under the right front seat.
Sept. 2, 1975
A grand jury convenes in Detroit to investigate the Hoffa disappearance.
More than 200 FBI agents are assigned to the case in New Jersey, Detroit and at least four other cities. During the period, more than 70 volumes of files are compiled, containing more than 16,000 pages. Six suspects in the disappearance, including Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone, are convicted on unrelated charges.
1982: Self-described mafia murderer Charles Allen, who served prison time with Hoffa and participated in the federal witness-protection program, tells a U.S. Senate committee that Hoffa was killed at Provenzano’s orders. Hoffa’s body was “ground up in little pieces, shipped to Florida and thrown into a swamp,” Allen said.
Hoffa is declared legally dead.
Self-described hit man Donald “Tony the Greek” Frankos claims Hoffa is buried under Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The FBI finds no evidence to support the claim.
The head of the FBI’s organized-crime unit says in a court document that he believes a decision whether to prosecute anyone could be made in the next two years.
The FBI says it will refer the case to the Oakland County prosecutor’s office for possible state charges. John Bell, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit bureau, says the federal case was stymied because of the length of time since Hoffa disappeared.
Aug. 29, 2002
Oakland County prosecutor says new DNA evidence in Hoffa’s disappearance is insufficient to bring criminal charges.
Bloomfield Township police rip up the floorboards from a Detroit house where one-time Hoffa ally Frank Sheeran claims to have killed him. The FBI crime lab would ultimately conclude that the blood found on the floorboards was not Hoffa’s.
New Jersey mob hit man Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, who died in March, claims that he killed Hoffa and put his body in a car that was sold as scrap metal. Kuklinski’s book, “The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,” contends he received $40,000 for the slaying.
May 17, 2006
The FBI begins searching a horse farm in Oakland County’s Milford Township, northwest of Detroit for Hoffa’s remains, but ends the search after finding nothing.
June 17, 2013
The FBI sees enough merit in a reputed Mafia captain’s tip to once again break out the digging equipment to search for Hoffa’s remains in an Oakland Township field, about 25 miles north of Detroit. No remains of Hoffa are found
Nov. 19, 2021
FBI says it obtained a search warrant to “conduct a site survey underneath the Pulaski Skyway” in New Jersey in an effort to find Hoffa body.
July 21, 2022
The FBI says it found no evidence of Hoffa during a search of land under a New Jersey bridge.