FBI Digs Up Mich. Field In Search of Jimmy Hoffa's Body

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 17 2013 12:58 PM

The FBI Thinks It May Finally Know Where Jimmy Hoffa's Body Is Buried

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This 12 April, 1971 file photo shows James 'Jimmy' Hoffa (L) and his son James P. Hoffa at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport where they were changing planes enroute to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania after visiting Jimmy Hoffa's wife at a hospital in San Francisco.

Photo by Jerry Siskind/AFP/Getty Images

Four decades after Jimmy Hoffa went missing and 31 years after he was declared dead by authorities, the FBI hasn't given up its search for the former Teamsters president's body. CBS News with the details on Monday's latest development in Michigan:

The feds will begin digging on a property in northern Oakland County. The dig ... is the result of extensive FBI interviews with a former mobster. Mafia underboss Tony Zerilli told WDIV-TV in an exclusive interview earlier this year that Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave on the property which is believed to be owned by a family with mob ties.
Zerilli, who was second in command with the Detroit mafia, said he was told by a mafia enforcer that Hoffa was abducted at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township and brought to Buhl Road In Oakland Township and buried. 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 on July, 30 1975 -- when Hoffa disappeared from a Bloomfield Township restaurant -- but says he was informed about Hoffa's whereabouts after his release.
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It's difficult to tell just how credible of a tip the FBI has on its hands. While Zerilli's lead sounds like one of the better ones given to the agency in recent years, there's at least one red flag: Zerilli is currently promoting a book, Hoffa Found, which he promises will reveal new details about Hoffa's death. Obviously, if his tip leads to the body it will help his credibility. But even if it doesn't, he's still getting a heavy dose of free PR for his troubles.

Book tours aside, though, local officials certainly sound optimistic. "It’s my fondest hope that we can give … closure not just to the Hoffa family, but also to the community and stop tearing that scab off with every new lead and bring some conclusion," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told reporters this morning in what the Detroit Free Press says was the first official confirmation of the search. "It’s long overdue."

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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