OAKLAND TOWNSHIP (WWJ) - The latest chapter in the seemingly illimitable search for labor leader Jimmy Hoffa’s remains has ended in defeat.
“… After a diligent search — pursuant to our responsibilities under the search warrant — we did not uncover any evidence relevant to the investigation on James Hoffa,” said Bob Foley, FBI Special Agent in Charge with the Detroit Field Office.
“I’m very confident of our result here — after two days-plus of diligent effort — and at this point we’ll be closing down the excavation operation, and we”ll be returning the property over to the property owner in the condition in which it was found,” Foley said.
Foley said, however, the case remains open.
This week’s dig, which began Monday morning, was the latest of many spanning nearly two decades.
Monday afternoon, investigators uncovered a “suspicious concrete slab,” which, as it turned out, didn’t contain any evidence. Likewise, on Tuesday, a reported “hit” by a cadaver dog turned out to be a bust.
It was the result of extensive FBI interviews with former FBI underboss Tony Zerilli, who earlier this year told a reporter that Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave on the Oakland Township property which is believed to be owned by a family with mob ties.
Zerilli, at one time second in command in the Detroit mafia, said he was told by a mafia enforcer that Hoffa was abducted, killed, and brought to the Buhl Road farm In Oakland Township. The original plan, according to the mobster, was to bury him there temporarily and then take his body up to northern Michigan and bury him at a hunting lodge.
Zerilli, now 85, was convicted of organized crime as a reputed mafia captain. He was in prison when Hoffa disappeared from a Bloomfield Township restaurant — but says he was informed about Hoffa’s whereabouts after his release.
Zerilli’s attorney, David Chasnick, said Wednesday his client still believes the information he gave is accurate, adding that the the FBI’s search may have been too limited.
Investigators have pursued thousands of leads in the decades since the Teamsters boss went to lunch on July 30, 1975, at the Machus Red Fox to meet a mob-connected Teamsters boss and Detroit mob Captain Tony Jack Giacalone — and was never seen again.
The federal government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hunt for Hoffa, according to sources talking to CBS Detroit.
The 2006 Milford farm dig alone cost $250,000, sources said, and before that, in 2003, the feds excavated a swimming pool and the surrounding area a few hours north of Detroit. They subsequently tore apart a home where Hoffa’s blood reportedly stained the floorboards.
In September of last year, radar equipment was reportedly brought in by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to scan a driveway on near 12 Mile and Gratiot in Roseville. But soil tests showed no signs of human DNA.
“I’ve talked to several high-level members of organized crime families (about this),” said Detroit mob expert and author Scott Bernstein in a CBS Detroit interview. “And a very highly placed member made a comment, ‘If we had to do it all over again, we would have left him in the middle of Telegraph Road.’”
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.