For nearly half a century, the disappearance of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa—reportedly from the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan—has remained one of America’s most popular unsolved mysteries. Conspiracy theories involving mobsters, hit men and all manner of criminal elements abound. And it seems like every year, someone new comes forward with information that will supposedly lead to Hoffa’s final resting place, but inevitably leads nowhere.
The most recent disappointment came last September when someone in Roseville, Michigan claimed to have seen a body buried under his driveway in 1975, not long after Hoffa went missing. Unfortunately, experts drilled, tested soil samples and could find no evidence of human decomposition.
Before that Hoffa’s remains were alleged to be: on a horse farm; under an above-ground pool; in a Cleveland tavern; packed into compressed metal that was later used to build Japanese cars; sealed within a 50-gallon drum at a waste facility; buried in one of the end zones at Giants Stadium; and even melded within the concrete foundation of General Motors’ headquarters.
The truth is that no one knows what happened to Jimmy on that fateful day in 1975, but a recent claim seems to hold more merit than most. And it comes from a source that many law enforcement officials consider to be “highly reputable” and “the right man at the right time”: former Detroit crime boss Anthony Joseph Zerilli.
In 1970, Tony Zerilli took over for his father as head of the Detroit Partnership crime syndicate, part of the notorious Italian Cosa Nostra—you know… the guys that make sure you “sleep with the fishes” if you don’t pay your debts or do their bidding?
Think The Godfather, only for real.
Unfortunately for Tony, he got popped by the feds in 1974 for some shady casino dealings and went to prison. His father Joseph Zerilli came out of retirement to lead “The Partnership” again and in July 1975, the Teamsters boss went missing. It stands to reason that Joseph knew Hoffa’s whereabouts—after all, he was the Head Honcho of the Detroit mob at the time—so it is at least possible that Tony had this information.
And Tony not only claimed to know where Hoffa’s body was buried; he gave the exact location to an NBC reporter this past January.
After leaving prison in 1979, Zerilli allegedly spoke with a mob enforcer friend who told him about the contract on Hoffa—which came from Detroit’s crime bosses (including Joseph Zerilli)—and provided details about his fate. Hoffa was lured to a meeting, presumably at the Machus Red Fox restaurant, captured and taken to a farm roughly 20 miles away that a mob underboss owned. Here he was killed and buried in a shallow grave until his body could be moved later. Unfortunately, that day never came and for all intents and purposes, Hoffa should still be there.
At least that’s the story Tony Zerilli told. And it seems to have been enough since as I’m writing this, investigators are on-the-scene at the farm in Oakland Township just north of Detroit—somewhere near the intersection of Adams and Buell Roads—where Hoffa was supposedly murdered.
I checked it out on Google Earth and it’s definitely a remote area. There is some development nearby, but that would not have been the case in 1975. Back then, I’m sure there was farmland as far as the eye could see.
What I find most interesting about Zerilli’s story is that it was convincing enough to secure a search warrant for private property, owned I’m sure by someone completely innocent of any Hoffa-related crimes. The FBI special agent in charge of the Detroit field office—Bob Foley—told reporters that the information Zerilli provided “reached the threshold of probable cause, which was sufficient to allow us to obtain a search warrant.”
In other words, there could be some truth to Zerilli’s claim. I seriously doubt it, of course—given all the rumors, wolf-crying and disappointment over the years—but I certainly hope it’s true. This mystery has gone unsolved long enough and the time has come to finally put it to rest.
That way we can focus on solving more important mysteries… like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot or why the makers of Vienna Sausages insist on packing their wieners in gelatinous goo. What’s up with that?
Hoffa disappeared more than 35 years ago under very mysterious circumstances, but his body was never found. And conspiracy theories about his ultimate demise abound. Was Hoffa murdered by mobsters and encased in the cement foundation of Giants Stadium? Was he dumped in a swamp? Dissolved in acid?
No one really knows. And none of these “leads” have ever panned out.
Is it possible this could change given this new discovery? Most law enforcement officials think not, but there is an investigation underway.
Last week, authorities used ground-penetrating radar on the site and discovered an anomaly in the soil below. This indicated that yes, the ground had been disturbed at some point. Soil samples are now being collected to determine if a decomposed body is buried there.
“We are not claiming it’s Jimmy Hoffa because the timeline doesn’t add up,” explained Roseville Police Chief James Berlin. “We’re investigating a body that may be at the location.”
Whether or not this is really Jimmy Hoffa’s burial place remains to be seen, but additional information should be available soon.
Jimmy Hoffa was last seen leaving a restaurant outside Detroit in July 1975 and getting into a car with a Teamsters boss and a mafia captain. The dying man who thinks Hoffa’s body is buried under that driveway said that he saw several men burying a large black bag in that location shortly after Hoffa’s disappearance.
Although I hope this brings an end to the mystery surrounding Hoffa’s disappearance, I’m fairly certain he will never be found. It’s been 35 years and endless leads have been investigated, but still nothing has ever been found. Whoever disposed of his body did a thorough job and I seriously doubt they buried him under a driveway in suburbia.
Of course, I’ll still be waiting for the results of the investigation with great anticipation. And if it really is Hoffa, we can finally put his case to rest and focus on solving another mystery.
Watch out, Bigfoot, because you might be next!