The dig continues in hopes of finding Jimmy Hoffa

Jun 18, 2013

Update 6/19: 

The search is over, Reuters reported this afternoon. FBI officials left the field in Oakland Township without a body.  

Update 4:25 p.m.:

Detroit News reporter Tony Briscoe is tweeting live from the dig.

Yesterday marked the start of yet another effort to find the body of the Teamster leader who went missing in July 1975.

Today, the search for Jimmy Hoffa resumes.

This most recent search was prompted by a tip from an ex-mob underboss, Anthony Zerilli.

Robert Snell, Candice Williams, and Tony Briscoe of the Detroit News reports:

FBI officials said they believe the tip — coming from Zerilli, 85, a former high-ranking alleged member of the Detroit area La Cosa Nostra — is worth thoroughly investigating despite what has seemed like a ghost hunt for nearly four decades across southeast Michigan and beyond.

Zerilli told agents Hoffa was abducted, whacked over the head with a shovel and buried alive in a shallow grave on the former farm. The land was once owned by former mob boss Jack Tocco.

The grave, near a demolished farmhouse and barn, was covered by a concrete slab, Zerilli claims, and Hoffa was supposed to be moved to a spot in Rogers City, but the plan was scrapped because of publicity surrounding the union leader’s disappearance.

Chasnick said the FBI found the slab, though a bureau spokesman declined to comment.

A myriad of promising searches in previous years have proven fruitless. Some of the more unusual places that have been involved in the ongoing cold case investigation include:

So… all these investigations … how much have they cost?

Matt Berman at National Journal wondered the same thing:

In 2006, the FBI spent two weeks digging up a farm 30 miles outside of Detroit looking for Hoffa's body. It found nothing. In 2007, The Detroit News revealed that during that search, the FBI paid $160,000 to the owners of the farm and $65,000 to excavators and other contractors working on the dig. That's a total of $225,00, not counting the hours put in by federal agents.

[...]

Former U.S. Attorney Keith Corbett, who went to several Hoffa search sites when he was chief of the Eastern District of Michigan's Organized Crime Strike Force, justified the costly, never-ending searches to The Detroit News:

“You still have the Hoffa family. There is a son and a daughter who would like to know where their father is. You can't do a cost benefit analysis on a murder investigation.”

And maybe this search in a field will be more successful than all the searches that have come before it in the last 38 years. Maybe today we'll find Jimmy Hoffa's body. Who knows what we'll do with it.

The story of Jimmy Hoffa has taken on myth-like status, but what was he like as a person?

During the last search for Hoffa's body, Michigan Radio's Mark Brush found some video of him speaking on a local television program:

Hoffa spent five years in a Pennsylvania prison after he was convicted of attempted bribery of a juror. His 13-year sentence was commuted by President Nixon

Here he talks about his experience in prison on WEWS Cleveland's "Morning Exchange" television show.

The interview took place sometime between his release at the end of 1971, and his death in 1975.

The frank discussion of prison life gives us a little insight into who Hoffa was.

Here's the interview:

-Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom