The whereabouts of former Teamster head Jimmy Hoffa
have been a mystery since his disappearance in 1975 — but now a former high-ranking Detroit gangster has come forth claiming to know where Hoffa is buried.
Reputed Mafia captain Tony Zerilli, 85, says Hoffa is buried in a shallow grave approximately 30 miles north of the Red Fox restaurant
in Detroit where he was last spotted. Zerilli, once affiliated with the Detroit La Cosa Nostra family, took a reporter to a field at an undisclosed location near Rochester.
“The master plan was, that I understood, was that they were going to put him in a shallow grave here. Then, they were going to take him from here to Rogers City upstate,” Zerilli said. “There was a hunting lodge and they were going to bury in a shallow grave then take him up there for final burial. Then, I understand, that it just fell through.”
Zerilli was in prison when Hoffa disappeared
, but says he was told about the location of the body after his release. The 85-year old says he was "crushed" when he learned of Hoffa's disappearance while still behind bars.
"If I wasn’t away I don’t think it ever would’ve happened, that’s all I can tell you," He said. "I would’ve done anything in the world to protect Jim Hoffa.”
Zerilli also denies any involvement in the Teamster's disappearance.
"What happened to Hoffa had nothing to do with me in any way, shape or form,” Zerilli said.
“They accused me while I was away," he added. "If that’s not an alibi I don’t know what the hell an alibi is."
After his release, Federal agents questioned Zerilli about Hoffa's disappearance. He refused to talk, and to this day will not name anyone involved in the crime.
“I’m not a stool pigeon,” he said.
So why is Zerilli talking at all after all these years?
“I’m dead broke. I got no money,” the ailing former mobster told NBC 4 New York. “My quality of life is zero.”
Over the years there have been countless rumors about the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa.
“All this speculation about where he is and he’s not," Zerilli said. "They say he was in a meat grinder. It’s all baloney."
Federal agents are paying attention to Zerilli's claim — including former U.S. attorney Keith Corbett
, who worked as a prosecutor against organized crime for 20 years.
“The bureau had a short list of people they wanted to talk to about that and I can’t think of anybody on that list who was more highly placed then Anthony Zerilli,” Corbett said. "This is certainly the most interesting and attractive lead that has come up since I’ve been involved with this — and I think the bureau would react the same way.”