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No Hoffa Remains Found; Latest Search for Teamster's Body Called Off

By Ken Mandel   |   Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 04:51 PM

The FBI ended the latest search for the remains of former Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa on Wednesday after a nearly three-day excavation of a field in Oakland Township, Mich. Robert Foley, head of the FBI in Detroit, told reporters that investigators found no remains at a farm field in a Detroit suburb.

"We did not uncover any evidence relevant to the investigation on James Hoffa," Foley told a throng of media. "Of course we're disappointed. Certainly what we do in the FBI with our law enforcement partners is endeavor to reach the conclusion of a criminal investigation. And at this point with respect to the fact that we had no evidence uncovered, we're not at that conclusion so, of course, we're disappointed."

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Investigators focused on this area in January after Tony Zerilli, 85, the son of reputed former Detroit mob boss Joseph Zerilli, identified it Hoffa's burial site. Tony Zerilli said Hoffa was hit with a shovel and buried alive with a slab of concrete placed over the body, USA Today reported.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said during a news conference Monday that bringing closure to the case is "long overdue."

Hoffa, 62, was kidnapped July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of a Bloomfield Township, Mich., restaurant. He was legally declared dead in 1982.

John Anthony, a former FBI special agent who was involved in the original 1975 hunt for Hoffa, said Zerilli's tip was the most credible he's heard since Hoffa's disappearance, though he still had reservations — mainly because of Zerilli's claim that Hoffa was killed with a shovel; organized crime members in those days would've preferred to shoot him in the head at close range, Anthony said, according to CNN.

Zerilli is hawking a book of what he claims is the true story of why and how Hoffa disappeared. His lawyer, David Chasnick, denied that his client's claims are an attempt to make money.

"The only interest I think that Mr. Zerilli really cares about is that the body be found and these people be put at ease that the body and remains have finally been found," Chasnick said, according to CNN. "The FBI wouldn't be doing all this stuff if they thought it was just a ploy."

This is the latest chapter of a 38-year search for Hoffa. Earlier this year, Zerilli told New York's NBC 4 that Hoffa was buried in a Michigan field about 20 miles north of where he was last seen in 1975. The FBI said in 1975 that Hoffa's disappearance could've been connected to his attempts to regain power in the Teamsters.

"This has been one of those open wounds for a long time," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said a Monday press conference. "Actually, as this was spinning up, and we were chatting earlier last week and especially yesterday I was thinking about what Father's Day means to the family that doesn't have closure on this case, and families like them all across the country that have a missing loved one and didn't know what happened."

Before his disappearance, Hoffa said he was going to meet a suspected member of the Detroit Mafia and a Teamster boss from New Jersey at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Fox News reported.

In the past, other tips have led to searches, including, in 2003, a backyard swimming pool 90 miles northwest of Detroit.

In 2006, a tip from a sickly federal inmate prompted a two-week search and excavation at a horse farm in the same area.

Last year, soil samples were taken from under the concrete floor of a backyard shed north of the city.

"It remains an open investigation," FBI Detroit spokesman Simon Shaykhet said.

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Related stories:

Hunt for Jimmy Hoffa's Body Brings Investigators to Michigan Field

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