DETROIT (WWJ) – Now more than four decades later, speculation still swirls concerning the biggest mystery in Detroit history: What happened to Jimmy Hoffa?
Sunday will mark 42 years since the Teamsters union leader disappeared following a planned meeting with two alleged mobsters at the Machus Red Fox, at Maple and Telegraph roads.
Organized crime expert James Buccellato, a professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northern Arizona University, believes Hoffa was murdered at a home in Bloomfield Hills.
“I think, in all likelihood, he was informed by the Mafia that the meeting was not going to go down at the restaurant as planned,” Buccellato told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “He was lured to a location near the restaurant — most likely the house owned by Carlo Licata, who was a member of the Mafia. His house was about a mile from the restaurant.”
Once there, Buccellato said, Hoffa was executed by Detroit mobsters and members of the New York Mafia.
“And I believe he was taken immediately, his body, to either a funeral home on the east side — I don’t want to mention it because it’s still a prominent funeral home on the east side that was once upon a time owned by the mafia,” or, Buccellato said: “There were a couple of incinerators in Detroit that were owned by the Mafia. It would’ve been a quick drop…and possibly a sausage factory in Detroit; he was possibly ground up.”
There has been many a summertime dig at sites across southeast Michigan, but a single sign of Hoffa’s body has ever been found.
That makes sense to Buccellato, who said — sausage possibility aside — most likely all remains were burned to dust.
“I’ve talked to retired FBI agents, and that’s one of the theories that they subscribe to most,” he said, adding that investigators simply did not have enough to get evidence to get an indictment.
As for all the other wild stories:
“The craziest theory that I’ve ever heard was that he was actually, this was a while back, but that he was actually still alive and that he as being kept somewhere alive by the Mafia; sort of an ‘Elvis is still alive’ kind of theory,” Buccellato said.
“…I really disagree with the notion that his body was transported to New Jersey and buried or New York and buried or Florida and fed to the alligators.”
With a high-profile execution like that, Buccellato said, to transport the body across state lines doesn’t make sense. “It’s just not practical.”
James Buccellato is the author of “Early Organized Crime in Detroit: Vice, Corruption and the Rise of the Mafia,” available at Amazon.com.