Hoffa case: Soil results no guarantee of search's end

Story highlights

  • Tests results on soil samples are expected back Tuesday, a police chief says
  • The two soil samples were taken from a Michigan home last week
  • A tipster said he saw a body buried there a day after Jimmy Hoffa went missing
  • The union leader's disappearance 35 years ago captured the public's imagination

Authorities might find out Tuesday whether a body was buried under a shed in Roseville, Michigan. They just won't know whether it's missing Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa or not.

Two soil samples were taken from a home in the suburban Detroit community of Roseville last week after a tipster claimed he saw a body buried on the property a day after Hoffa disappeared in 1975.

The samples were taken from beneath a storage shed and sent to a lab at Michigan State University for tests to determine the presence of human remains.

The hope had been to get the findings back sometime Monday. But in a press release issued Monday afternoon, Roseville Police Chief James Berlin said he'd been told that, while testing had begun, "the results of those tests will not be available until early (Tuesday) morning."

What police do know is that the samples that were unearthed didn't contain any "discernible remains," such as bones, body parts or other evidence, according to Berlin.

The search of the Roseville property is the latest in an on-again, off-again search for Hoffa, whose disappearance 35 years ago captured the public imagination.

Hoffa, then 62, was last seen on July 30, 1975, outside the Detroit-area Machus Red Fox restaurant. He was there ostensibly to meet with reputed Detroit Mafia street enforcer Anthony Giacalone and Genovese crime family figure Anthony Provenzano, who was also a chief of a Teamsters local in New Jersey. Giacalone died in 1982; Provenzano died in 1988 in prison.

Police: Hoffa a wound that won't go away
Police: Hoffa a wound that won't go away


    Police: Hoffa a wound that won't go away


Police: Hoffa a wound that won't go away 02:28
New hunt for Hoffa's remains
New hunt for Hoffa's remains


    New hunt for Hoffa's remains


New hunt for Hoffa's remains 01:39

The tipster, a former gambler, once did business with a man tied to Giacalone, said Dan Moldea, author of "The Hoffa Wars." Moldea said he first spoke to the tipster in March and then sent him to police.

Vanished Hoffa still fascinates after almost 40 years

Despite those links, Moldea said it seems unlikely that anyone would have been buried at the site, in full view of the neighborhood. And if a body had been buried there, little would remain, he said.

The lab tests being conducted on the soil samples will be able to determine if human remains were buried at the site, but will not identify them, Berlin said. If human remains are discovered, investigators would have to return for a more complete excavation, he said.

Even so, Berlin doubts any possible human remains discovered at the house would be those of Hoffa.

"It would be great if it was, because I would like to bring closure to his family and the tens of thousands of Teamsters that idolize this man, and just the southeast of Michigan," Berlin said.

"This is kind of like an open wound that won't go away. Every couple of years this happens, and all you guys come out here and we have to relive it."

But Berlin said the "time line doesn't really add up."

Hoffa was of the most powerful union leaders at a time when unions wielded enormous political sway. He was forced out of the organized labor movement when he went to federal prison in 1967 for jury tampering and fraud.

President Richard Nixon pardoned him in 1971 on condition he not attempt to get back into the union movement before 1980.

Hoffa believed Giacalone had set up the meeting to help settle a feud between Hoffa and Provenzano, but Hoffa was the only one who showed up for the meeting, according to the FBI. Giacalone and Provenzano later told the FBI that no meeting had been scheduled.

The FBI said at the time that the disappearance could have been linked to Hoffa's efforts to regain power in the Teamsters and the mob's influence over the union's pension funds.

Police and the FBI have searched for Hoffa intermittently.

In September 2001, the FBI found DNA that linked Hoffa to a car that agents suspected was used in his disappearance.

In 2004, authorities removed floorboards from a Detroit home to look for traces of blood, as former Teamsters official Frank Sheeran claimed in a biography that he had shot Hoffa. Sheeran died in 2003.

Two years later, the FBI razed a horse barn in Michigan following what it called "a fairly credible lead."

Urban lore long suggested that Hoffa was buried around the end zone at the former Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

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