OAKLAND TWP. (WWJ) – There’s some renewed excitement in the hunt for labor leader Jimmy Hoffa’s remains after a cadaver dog had a “hit” on something Tuesday afternoon at the dig site.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said the dog, as he was walked around the search area, “reacted to some scent” in the ground — but investigators are not sure to what, exactly, the dog was reacting.
“I wouldn’t call it a conclusive hit,” Bouchard told reporters.
“It [the dog] is supposed to be discerning enough to tell the difference between a human or other kinds of animals, but, you know, obviously we’ve had some time lags and differentials and so … we’re not sure if the cadaver dog was in fact conclusive,” Bouchard said.
Earlier, a “suspicious” concrete slab was retrieved by investigators from the Oakland Township field where they have been digging for any sign of Hoffa. It’s still too soon, however, to know whether the slab is anything more than part of an old foundation for a barn.
Bouchard said some bones have been found — which is not unusual on farmland — but none of them are human bones.
Bouchard said crews have finished with one section of the property and have now moved on to another. He expects the search to last through Thursday.
The dig — the latest in what’s been nearly a 40-year search — is reportedly the result of extensive FBI interviews with former mobster Tony Zerilli.
Zerilli, now 85, was convicted of organized crime as a reputed mafia captain. He was in prison on July, 30 1975 — when Hoffa disappeared from a Bloomfield Township restaurant — but says he was informed about Hoffa’s whereabouts after his release.
Zerilli said he was told by a mafia enforcer that Hoffa was abducted, killed, and brought to the Buhl Road site. The original plan, according to the mobster, was to bury Hoffa there temporarily, then later move his body near a hunting lodge in northern Michigan.
Mafia expert and author Scott Bernstein said Zerilli, who for a time served as the mafia’s second in command, is “the most credible person” ever to come forward with information on the case.
It’s believed that Hoffa was making an attempt to regain control of the Teamsters union following his release from federal prison in 1971, and organized crime figures from around the country ordered Hoffa’s death to stop that from happening.
Sources say Hoffa made his way up in the Teamsters with help from the mafia, long before a murder contract was placed on his life in early 1975.