For readers who don't know about Jimmy Hoffa, and given it's been 38 years since he disappeared there are many, he was a powerful union boss who spent time with mobsters. Suddenly, in 1975, he was gone. Forever.
Hoffa disappeared on or about July 30 of that year, after having lunch at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in suburban Detroit, eating with a union man and a mob man. Why union men or the mob would want Hoffa killed is the stuff of conjecture. Suffice to say there were reasons and it seems one was enough to see the job carried out.
His body was never found, but now there is a new tip police are acting on, and if it leads to the Holy Hoffa Grail then it will bring a measure of closure to his surviving family and the end to nearly four decades of speculation. For those of us who were around, no matter how young, when Hoffa disappeared, his being found will somehow feel welcome.
Jimmy Hoffa: butt of talk show jokes
With no body, Jimmy Hoffa became the stuff of legend, the butt of late-night talk show jokes and the subject of countless rumor. Declared dead in 1982, there have been scores of tips on where he's buried, virtually all saying his remains are in the vicinity of Detroit. Many were checked out, all turned out false.
But something about this tip has an strong air of possibility and police are looking in a field north of Detroit. The field is in Oakland County, the county where Hoffa was last seen. It's also on property once owned by Jack Tocco, a reputed crime boss in Detroit.
The man who gave the tip, Tony Zerilli, once a Mafia captain, is the author of the book 'Hoffa Found' and in it he purports to know where Hoffa is buried. Zerilli, 85, told his story to media, including NBC's Marc Santia, saying he told the police and prosecutors everything he knows, including the whereabouts of the field Jimmy Hoffa is buried in.
Tony Zerilli: "thrilled" police searching field
Zerilli was in prison when Hoffa was killed and says if he hadn't been, the hit would likely not have happened. He liked Hoffa, calling the 62-year-old (Zerilli was then 47) a gentleman. Adding gruesome details, he said Hoffa was killed on the property, hit with a shovel, then buried alive with a slab of concrete overtop him. The killers intended to move the body but never got around to it.
Zerilli's lawyer, David Chasnick, said his client wasn't making a statement about the hunt for Hoffa but Chasnick spoke for him, telling media Zerilli is "thrilled" the field is being searched. The lawyer also said that "Hoffa's body is somewhere in that field, no doubt about it."
As of this writing, early Tuesday, June 18, police have searched parts of the field with excavation equipment, but have only just begun the job. They will doubtless continue for as long as it takes to either find Jimmy Hoffa or determine that his body is not there.
This time just may be the time.
Update: a report later Tuesday says that investigators say they have found a concrete slab buried in the field. They are making no further comment at this time.