Missing Head Of The Union: Where The Hell Is Jimmy Hoffa?

Jimmy Hoffa on a car phone

*Just like with the Lindbergh article I will attach a separate document containing theories of where Jimmy Hoffa’s body might be. You may read it if you wish.*

One of the biggest mysteries of all time is the disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Over the years multiple theories have come out about where he could possibly be. No matter how many differing opinions go around the one thing we all can agree on is the fact that Jimmy Hoffa, or J. Hoffs as I like to call him, is dead. Dead as a doornail. Even if he wasn’t murdered, he would have succumbed to old age by now. So, no matter which way you slice it the man is pushing up daisies. Many interviews have been conducted over the years and just as many questions have been asked. But nobody is talking. By now we all know the mafia had something to do with the Hoffs going missing and one thing that particular group sticks to is Omerta, a severe code of silence. Breaking Omerta by speaking to government officials is certain to result in death. It is the worst of the worst thing the members can do to one another. So, it’s pretty safe to say this man is never going to be found. At least not in my lifetime. It doesn’t help that most of the people involved have since passed away. Guys please, and I can’t stress this enough, please do not ask the mafia for help when you need it. If you do you just might end up *Marlon Brando’s “The Godfather” voice with fingers pinched together and held up in the air* swimming with the fishes. That’s a great movie by the way. No, it’s a phenomenal movie. If you haven’t seen it you definitely need to watch it. I hate movies in general so just take my word for it when I say it’s good.

James Riddle Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana, on February 14, 1913, to John and Viola Hoffa. In 1920, when Hoffa was seven years old his dad passed away from lung cancer. The family moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1924, where Hoffa lived for the rest of his life. Hoffa dropped out of school when he was fourteen years old and started working a full-time manual labor job to help support his family. On September 24, 1936, Jimmy Hoffa married Josephine Poszywak after the couple met at a nonunionized laundry worker’s strike action six months earlier. They would go on to have two children: a daughter, Barbara Ann Hoffa, and a son, James P. Hoffa. In 1939 the couple paid $6,800 for a modest home in northwestern Detroit. That’s right folks they paid $6,800 for a WHOLE house. That won’t even cover the down payment now! They later bought a summer lakefront cottage in Orion Township. Michigan, north of Detroit. Must be nice.

Hoffa began union organizational work at the grassroots level as a teenager through his job with a grocery chain. The chain paid substandard wages and offered poor working conditions with minimal job security. The workers were very displeased with their situation and tried to organize a union (an organization of workers who have come together to achieve common goals, such as protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards, and attaining better wages, benefits such as vacation, health care, and retirement, and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by solidarity among workers) to better their lot. Although Hoffa was young, his courage and aggression in that role impressed fellow workers, and he rose to a leadership position. Hoffa left the grocery chain in 1932, after refusing to work for an abusive shift foreman. Shortly after he quit his job, he was invited to become an organizer with Local 299 of the Teamsters in Detroit. The Teamsters were founded in 1903 and had 75,000 in 1933. As a result of Hoffa’s work with other union leaders to help consolidate local union trucker groups into regional sections, the Teamsters’ membership grew to 170,000 in 1936. Just three years later the group had grown to 420,000 members and by 1951 had over one million members.

The Teamsters organized truck drivers and warehousemen throughout the Midwest before expanding nationwide. Jimmy Hoffa played a major role in the union’s skillful use of “quickie strikes”, secondary boycotts, and other means of leveraging union strength within a company. The process started in the 1930s and eventually brought the Teamsters to a position of being one of the most powerful unions in the United States. In That era, trucking unions were heavily influenced and often controlled by elements of organized crime. For Hoffa to expand trucking unions, he had to make accommodations and arrangements with many gangsters, particularly the wildly powerful Genovese crime family in New York. See, that’s where my man f* up. That’s where things started to go south. Organized crime influence on the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters) increased as the union itself grew.

Hoffa and the mafia worked to defend the Teamsters from raids by other unions, including the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and he extended the Teamsters’’ influence in the Midwest from the late 1930s to the late 1940s. Despite never working as a truck driver, he became president of Local 299 in December 1946. He went on to lead the combined group of Detroit-area locals shortly afterwards, and eventually advanced to become head of the Michigan Teamsters group. During WWII Jimmy Hoffa obtained a deferment from military service by successfully making a case for his union leadership skills being of more value to the nation by keeping freight running smoothly to assist in the war effort. At the IFT convention in 1952, Hoffa was selected as national vice-president, by incoming president Dave Beck. During this time the IBT moved its headquarters from Indianapolis to Washington, DC, taking over a large office building in 1955 and Hoffa began to spend more time away from Detroit. Hoffa became president of the Teamsters in 1957, at a convention in Miami Beach, Florida. His predecessor, Dave Beck, had appeared before the John L. McClellan-led US Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor or Management Field in March 1957 and pleaded the fifth a total of 140 times in response to questions he was asked. Beck was under indictment when the IBT convention in Miami Beach took place and was convicted and imprisoned for fraud.

The 1957 AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, voted nearly five to one to expel the IBT. Vice President, Walter Reuther, led the fight to make Hoffa’s corrupt leadership of the IBT known. President, George Meany, gave a speech stating that he could agree to further affiliation of the Teamster only if Jimmy Hoffa stepped down as president. Meany demanded a response from Hoffa, who replied through the press, “We’ll see.” Guess What? It never happened. Following his re-election in 1961, Hoffa worked to expand the union and in 1964, he succeeded in bringing almost all over-the-road truck drivers in North America under a single National Master Freight Agreement. This may have been his biggest achievement in a lifetime of union work. Hoffa then tried to bring airline workers and other transport employees into the union but had very limited success. Jimmy Hoffa began facing severe personal strain as he was under investigation, on trial, working on appeals, or imprisoned for virtually all of the 1960s.

Hoffa was re-elected to a third five-year term as president of the IBT without opposition, despite having been convicted of jury tampering and mail fraud in court verdicts that were stayed pending review on appeal. Vice president Frank Fitzsimmons would become president “if Hoffa has to serve a jail term”. On March 14, 1957, Hoffa was arrested for allegedly trying to bribe an aide to the Select Committee. He denied the charges and was later acquitted. However, this arrest triggered additional investigations and more arrests and indictments over the next few weeks. When John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, he appointed his younger and much cuter brother Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General. Bobby Kennedy had been fed up by earlier attempts to convict Hoffa while working as the McClellan subcommittees’ lawyer. As Attorney General RFK pursued a strong attack on organized crime and carried on with a “Get Hoffa” squad of lawyers and investigators.

In May 1963, Hoffa was indicted for jury tampering, he was charged with the attempted bribery of a grand juror during his 1960 conspiracy trial in Nashville, Tennessee. On March 4, 1964, Jimmy Hoffa was convicted and subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison and a $10,000 fine. While on bail during his appeal, Hoffa was convicted in a trial in Chicago on one count of conspiracy and three counts of mail and wire fraud for the improper use of the Teamsters’ pension fund and was sentenced to five years in prison. Dude, is really racking up the jail time, isn’t he? J. Hoffs spent the next three years unsuccessfully appealing his 1964 convictions. He began serving his thirteen-year prison sentence on March 7, 1967, at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. When Hoffa entered prison, Frank Fitzsimmons was named acting president of the union, and Hoffa planned to run the union from his jail cell through Fitzsimmons. Do you see how these people work around the system? I guess you can’t blame them for being smart.

Fitzsimmons was a Hoffa loyalist, fellow Detroit resident, and a longtime member of Teamsters Local 299. He also owed his own high position in large to Hoffa’s influence. Despite all this, Fitzsimmons soon pulled away from Hoffa’s influence and control after 1967. Of course, Jimmy was highly displeased by this. Fitzsimmons also decentralized power within the IBT’s administration structure, leaving out much of the control Hoffa took advantage of as union president. While still in prison, Jimmy Hoffa resigned as Teamsters president on June 19, 1971, and Fitzsimmons was elected Teamsters president on July 9, 1971. On December 23, 1971, after serving less than FIVE YEARS of his THIRTEEN YEAR sentence, Hoffa was released from prison when United States President Richard Nixon commuted it to time served. Ah, Tricky Dick, you son of a bitch.

As a result of Hoffa’s previous resignation, he was awarded a $1.75 million lump sum termination benefit by the Teamsters Retirement and Family Protection Plan. That type of pension settlement had never occurred with the Teamsters before. In 1972, the IBT endorsed Nixon for the Republican party. Which was a change since the union had normally supported Democratic nominees in the past. Even though Hoffa regained his freedom, the commutation from Nixon did not allow him to “engage in the direct or indirect management of any labor organization” until March 6, 1980. Hoffa argued that he never agreed to that condition. He accused senior Nixon administration figures, including Attorney General John N. Mitchell and White House Special Counsel Charles Colson, of depriving him of his rights by imposing that condition. It was believed that the condition had been imposed because of requests from the Teamsters’ leadership, but that was later denied by Fitzsimmons. By 1973, Hoffa was planning to seize the presidency of the Teamsters again.

Hoffa sued to have the restriction on him lifted so that he could reassert his power over the Teamsters. John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon, was among those called upon for depositions in the 1974 court proceedings. Dean had become famous as a government witness in prosecutions arising from the Watergate Scandal in 1972. Jimmy ultimately lost his court battle since the court that Nixon had acted within his powers by imposing the restrictions, since it was based on Hoffa’s misconduct while he was serving as a Teamsters official. Hoffa faced resistance to his re-establishment of power from many different areas and lost much of his earlier support in the Detroit area. His plans to regain leadership of the union were also met with heavy opposition from several members of the Mafia. One of them was Anthony Provenzano, who had been a Teamsters local leader in New Jersey as well as a national vice-president of the union during Hoffa’s second term as president. Provenzano and Hoffa had a friendship that deteriorated after a reported feud they had while both were serving time in prison at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s.

In 1973 and 1974, Hoffa asked Provenzano for his support to regain his former title but the man refused and threatened Hoffa by reportedly telling him he would pull out his guts and kidnap his grandchildren. Provenzano was high ranking in the New York City Genovese crime family and at least two of his union opponents had been murdered while others who had spoken out against him had been assaulted. FBI agents believe, Anthony Giacalone, an alleged kingpin in the Detroit Mafia, and his younger brother, Vito (that is the most mafia name I’ve ever heard in my entire life) positioned themselves as “mediators” between Hoffa and Provenzano. They made three visits to the Hoffa household and one to the Guardian Building law offices but promised the meetings were arranged to make peace between Provenzano and Hoffa. James Hoffa, Jimmy’s son, said, “Dad was pushing so hard to get back in office, I was increasingly afraid that the mob would do something about it.” James was convinced that the “peace meetings” were a pretext for Giacalone’s “setting Dad up” for a hit since Hoffa had been increasingly uneasy each time the Giacalone brothers arrived.

On June 30, 1975, Junny Hoffa disappeared after he had gone to a meeting with Provenzano and Giacalone. The meeting was due to take place at 2:00 p.m. at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield, Township, a suburb of Detroit. The restaurant was well known to Hoffa since it had been the site of his son’s wedding reception. Hoffa had written Giacalone’s initials and the time and location of the meeting in his office datebook: “TG-2 p.m.- Red Fox.” Jimmy Hoffa left his house around 1:15 p.m. Before heading to the restaurant, he stopped at the office of his close friend Louis Linteau, a former president of Teamsters Local 614 who now ran a limousine service. Linteau was out to lunch when Hoffa stopped by so, he chatted with some of the staff and left Linteau a message. Between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m., an annoyed Hoffa called his wife from a payphone in front of Damman Hardware, directly behind the Machus Red Fox, and complained that Giacalone had not shown up and that he had been stood up. His wife let him know that she had not heard from anyone, and he told her he would be home at 4:00 p.m to throw some steaks on the grill.

Picture of a payphone for you youngsters who have never seen one

Several Witnesses saw Hoffa standing by his car and pacing the restaurant’s parking lot. Two men who knew Hoffa, saw him in the parking lot, and stopped to chat with him briefly. Hoffa then used the same payphone to call Linteau and once again complained that the men were late. Oh yeah, Linteau had helped set up the meeting, that’s probably an important piece of information. Linteau later told the FBI that Hoffa called him around 3:30 p.m. but authorities suspected that the time may have been earlier. The FBI estimates that Hoffa left the restaurant without a struggle around 2:45 p.m. One witness reported seeing Hoffa in the back of a maroon “Lincoln or Mercury” town car with three other people. Around 7:00 a.m. the next day, Jimmy Hoffa’s wife called their son and daughter to let them know that their dad had not come home the night before. Hoffa’s daughter claimed to have had a vision of her father, who, she was already sure, was dead. He was slumped over and wore a dark-colored, short-sleeved polo shirt. The clothing in her vision was exactly what Hoffa was wearing when he went missing. At 7:20 a.m., Linteau went to the Machus Red Fox and found Hoffa’s unlocked car in the parking lot, but there was no sign of Hoffa nor any indication of what had happened to him. He immediately called the police, who later arrived at the scene. The Michigan State Police were called in, and the FBI was alerted. At 6 :00 p.m. on July 1, 1975, Hoffa’s son, filled a missing person report. The family put up $200,000 (about $1,086,602.23 today) reward for any information about the disappearance. 

The primary piece of physical evidence obtained in the investigation was a maroon 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham, which was owned by Anthony Giacalone’s son Joseph. The car had been borrowed earlier that day by Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien to deliver fish. O’Brien was Hoffa’s foster son although relations between them had soured in the years leading up to Hoffa’s disappearance. Investigators and Hoffa’s family members suspected that O’Brien had a hand in the disappearance. On August 21st, police dogs picked up Hoffa’s scent in the car. Both Giacalone and Provenzano denied having scheduled a meeting with Hoffa and were found not to have been near the restaurant on the afternoon in question. Provenzano told investigators that he was playing cards with his friend, Stephen Andretta, in Union City, New Jersey, the day that Hoffa went missing. Extensive surveillance and bugging found that the Mafia members who were thought to be involved in the disappearance were generally unwilling to talk about it, even in private. On December 4, 1975, a federal investigator in Detroit stated in court, that a witness had identified three New Jersey men as having participated “in the abduction and murder of James R. Hoffa.” Three men named were close associates of Provenzano, Thomas Andretta, Salvatore Briguglio, and his brother Gabriel Briguglio. Later, Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelly went to Waterford Township to supervise an unsuccessful digging expedition for Hoffa’s body.

After years of investigation, involving numerous law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, officials have not reached a definitive conclusion as to what happened to Jimmy Hoffa and who was involved. On September 12, 1980, Hoffa’s wife Josephine passed away without ever knowing where her husband was. James R. Hoffa was declared legally dead on July 30, 1982, by Oakland County, Michigan Probate Judge Norman R. Bernard. In 1989, Kenneth Walton, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office, told The Detroit News that he knew what had happened to Hoffa, “I’m comfortable I know who did it, but it’s never going to be prosecuted because we would have to divulge informants, confidential sources.” In 2001, The FBI matched DNA from Hoffa’s hair, taken from a brush, with a strand of hair found in Joseph Giacalone’s car, but Hoffa may have traveled in the car on a different day. On June 16, 2006, the Detroit Free Press published the entire “Hoffex Memo”, a fifty-six-page report prepared by the FBI for a January 1976 briefing on the case at the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. Although the report did not claim conclusively to have established the specifics of his disappearance, the memo records a belief that Hoffa was murdered at the behest of organized crime figures, who regarded his efforts to regain power in the Teamsters as a threat to their control of the union’s pension fund.

There is wide agreement among crime historians and investigators that Hoffa was murdered on the order of his enemies in the Mafia. Although, key details remain either unknown or unprovable, and this has ensured that no individuals have ever been charged concerning the case. Investigative journalist, Dan Moldea, mentioned the possibility that Hoffa had retaliated against his Mafia opponents by cooperating with investigators against them. The Hoffex Memo includes this as a possible motivation for the murder. Vincent Piersante, the state government’s former chief investigator into the Hoffa case, doubted that Hoffa could have seriously threatened the Mafia in this way. Pirsante believed that any information Hoffa knew would either have incriminated himself or concerned crimes that were outside of the statute of limitations. He suggested that the killing was accidental and that the men who were sent to meet Hoffa were only meant to be “insultingly low-level messengers”. He further argued that Jimmy Hoffa has no realistic prospects for a comeback, that the disappearance did not share the usual characteristics of a Mafia hit, and that it risked encouraging action against organized crime, which did happen. This theory has never been accepted by criminologists.

In 1991, author Arthur A Sloane said that the most common theory of FBI investigators was that Russell Bufalino was the mob boss who ordered the hit on Hoffa, and Salvatore “Sally Bugs” Briguglio, his brother Gabriel Briguglio, Thomas Andretta, and Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien were the men who lured Hoffa away from the restaurant on that fateful afternoon. The theory is that O’Brien was used as an “unwitting dupe” to lure Hoffa away because Hoffa was suspicious of Provenzano and would not have entered the car unless there was someone, he was familiar with was present. The location of the murder is unknown, but any violence in the restaurant parking lot would have easily attracted attention. Therefore, the Hoffex memo suspects Hoffa was taken from the restaurant and murdered in another location. A former US Prosecuting Attorney, Keith Corbett, thought that O’Brien would have been considered too unreliable to be entrusted with a role in such a high-profile murder and that Vito “Billy” Giacalone was the familiar person in the car that day. In 2017, Northern Arizona University Criminology and Criminal Justice professor, James Buccellato, suggested that it was likely that Hoffa was murdered approximately one mile away from the restaurant at the house of Carlo Licata, the son of a mobster Nick Licata.

Arthur Sloane listed a trash incinerator and a landfill in Jersey City as the possible locations where the body was taken, the latter is supported by Dan Moldea. Buccellato listed two trash incinerators and a crematorium, all in the Detroit area. The doubted that the body had been transported a long distance: “It’s just not practical.” The Hoffex Memo similarly said: “If the Detroit LCN was used to assist in the disappearance, it is unknown why the body would be transported back to New Jersey when Detroit Organized Crime people have proven in the past that they are capable of taking care of such things.” Author Charles Brandt wrote in a book that Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, an alleged professional killer for the mob and a longtime friend of Hoffa, confessed to assassinating him. According to Sheeran, O’Brien drove him, Hoffa, and fellow mobster Sal Briguglio to a house in Detroit, where he shot Hoffa twice in the back of the head. In 2003, Sheeran admitted to reporters that he murdered Hoffa. Although bloodstains found in the Detroit house in which Sheeran claimed the murder had happened were determined not to match Hoffa’s DNA. Buccellato doubts that the Mafia would have entrusted an Irish American with this role and also believes that Hoffa would have refused to travel that far from the restaurant.  

One of the most believed rumors is that Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried in Giants Stadium. In an episode of the Discovery Channel show MythBusters, “The Hunt for Hoffa”, locations in the stadium in which Hoffa was rumored to be buried were scanned with ground-penetrating radar. The radar was intended to reveal if any disturbances indicated that a human body had been buried there. No trace of any human remains was ever found. In 2010 Giants Stadium was demolished and construction workers along with law enforcement checked every inch of dug-up grass, concrete, and metal but again no human remains were found. There is a rumor that NYPD didn’t let the workers near one particular area in the stadium and that is the area where Hoffa might be buried. But who knows? In 2012, Roseville, Michigan police took samples from the ground under a Detroit driveway after a person reported having witnessed the burial of a body there around the time of Hoffa’s 1975 disappearance. Tests done by Michigan State University anthropologists found no evidence of human remains.

In January 2013, gangster Tony Zerilli implied that Hoffa was originally buried in a shallow grave, with a plan to move his remains later to another location. Zerilli claimed that the plans were dropped and that Hoffa’s body is in a field in northern Oakland County, Michigan, not far from the restaurant where he was last seen. Zerilli denied any responsibility for or association with Hoffa’s disappearance. Of course, he did. What was he going to say? Hey, I helped kill Jimmy Hoffa, and here’s where you can find him? Get the f*** out of here. On June 17, 2013, the FBI investigated Zerilli’s information, heading to a property in Oakland Township, in northern Oakland County. The property was owned by Detroit mob boss Jack Tocco. After three days of searching, authorities called off the dig. No human remains were found, and the case remained open. Thomas Andretta and his brother Stephen were named by the FBI as suspects in the disappearance. Thomas passed away in 2019 and Stephen reportedly passed away from cancer in 2000. Both were New Jersey Teamsters and were respected associates of the Genovese crime family. The FBI said Thomas Andretta was a “trusted associate of Anthony Provenzano’ reported to be involved in the disappearance of Hoffa.”

In an April 2019 interview, the former Colombo crime family capo Michael Franzese said that he was certain that Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance had been mob-related, that he was away of the location of Hoffa’s body and the identity of his shooter, and had tapes that revealed details of his disappearance. Franzese stated, “I can tell you that it’s wet, that’s for sure,” and “Upon good information, again, I think I know who the real shooter was, still alive today, in prison.” Ah, so he hinted that Hoffa might be fish food by now. In a deathbed statement, landfill worker, Frank Cappola, claimed to have buried Hoffa’s body in a steel drum fifteen feet underground in a landfill beneath the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City, New Jersey. In October 2021, the FBI issues a warrant and completed a site survey in the landfill. Results of the survey have yet to be released. So, did ya’ll find something, or nah?

As the end of 2021, digs are still periodically conducted in the Detroit area in search of Hoffa’s body despite claims that he may be buried in New York and a common theory among experts that the body was cremated.

I don’t think we will ever find Jimmy Hoffa’s body. It must be long gone by now. Not must be, it has to be. Wherever I’m going after my time here is done, I’m finding Hoffa. I’m finding him and I’m asking him “What happened to you bruh? Where’s your body?” The world can’t leave us with questions like these. Inquiring minds will always want to know. What the hell is James R. Hoffa? 

Jimmy Hoffa

Sources:

“History’s Greatest Mysteries: The Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa” – History Channel

“Jimmy Hoffa” – Wikipedia

“Jimmy Hoffa: Deathbed confession sparks long-missing US union boss body hunt” – BBC

“This could be best evidence yet of Jimmy Hoffa’s NJ grave” – New York Post ”

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