DETROIT – The decadeslong odyssey to find the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, a tenacious leader of the Teamsters union, apparently has turned to land next to a former New Jersey landfill that sits below an elevated highway.
Here’s what you need to know about the FBI’s new search, and a timeline of key events in Hoffa’s disappearance.
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Last month, the FBI obtained a search warrant to “conduct a site survey underneath the Pulaski Skyway,” said Mara Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Detroit field office.
“On October 25th & 26th, FBI personnel from the Newark and Detroit field offices completed the survey and that data is currently being analyzed,” Schneider said in a statement Friday. “Because the affidavit in support of the search warrant was sealed by the court, we are unable to provide any additional information.”
She didn’t indicate whether anything was removed from the site.
The FBI’s disclosure is another turn in a mystery that has gripped law enforcement for more than 45 years.
Hoffa was last seen on July 30, 1975, when he was to meet with reputed Detroit mob enforcer Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and alleged New Jersey mob figure Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano at a restaurant in suburban Detroit.
The focus now is in Jersey City, below a four-lane bridge where the sound of cars and trucks doesn't stop. Wild overgrown brush thrives in the gritty industrial area, and green dumpsters abound. No one nearby at Interstate Waste Services offered a comment.
“I’ve been assured that the body hasn’t been dug up yet,” journalist Dan Moldea told The Associated Press, referring to the FBI’s work in October.
Moldea, who has written extensively about the Hoffa saga, said he was contacted by the FBI in September 2020, months after speaking to Frank Cappola, the son of a key figure, and publishing a detailed account.
Cappola, who was a teenager in the 1970s, said he worked at the old PJP Landfill with his father, Paul Cappola.
Cappola said his father was dying in 2008 when he decided to reveal secrets. He explained how Hoffa's body was delivered to the landfill in 1975, placed in a steel drum and buried with other barrels, bricks and dirt, according to Moldea.
Paul Cappola, worried that police might be watching, dug a hole on New Jersey state property, about 100 yards from the landfill, and dumped the unmarked barrel there, Moldea said Friday.
“Then he put 15 to 30 steel drums on top of it, which were filled with toxic adhesives, and bulldozed the area flat,” Moldea said.
Frank Cappola spoke to Fox Nation and Moldea before he died in 2020 and signed a document attesting to his father’s story.
“I’ve pushed all my chips in on this thing. I believe that we’ve got it,” Moldea told the AP. “Certainly the FBI is taking this seriously. … This is wonderful, on the verge of total and complete vindication for their 46-year investigation. I’m hopeful they succeed.”
The search over the years has included various digs in rural Michigan and even the removal of floorboards at a Detroit house.
Hoffa was president of the 2.1 million-member Teamsters union from 1957-71, even keeping the title while in prison for trying to bribe jurors during a previous trial. He was released from prison in 1971 when President Richard Nixon shortened his sentence.
It has been long speculated that Hoffa, who was 62, was killed by enemies because he was planning a Teamsters comeback. He was declared legally dead in 1982.
Events in disappearance of former Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa
Here’s a chronology of events in the disappearance of 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.