It is one of “true crimes’” all-time greatest mysteries: What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? It is a case nearly 40-years old that, in all likelihood, will never be solved. Hoffa was no doubt murdered, most likely by a mob not happy with the prospect of his attempt at a return to union boss. Yet, where does his body reside? That is the question that continues to intrigue media and the public while eternally stymieing law enforcement officials.
When you are talking organized crime, such secrets tend to go to the graves of those involved, despite a number of deathbed, ‘conscience-clearing’ confessions that have occurred over the years. One of particular interest is that of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a longtime friend and associate of Hoffa’s who had close ties to the Bufalino crime family. Prior to his death in 2003, Sheeran relayed to author Charles Brandt the details of that fateful late July day in 1975, when Hoffa was picked up in the parking lot of the then Machus Red Fox in Bloomfield and then driven to a house in Detroit where he assassinated Hoffa. Brandt’s book “I Hear You Paint Houses” was published in 2004.
So where was Hoffa taken from there and where is he today? There are nearly as many rumors and myths as years that have passed; everything from ending up in the end zone of Giants Stadium (then being constructed) in New Jersey to a horse farm in Detroit’s far northwest suburbs. The latest search, of course, is centered around a piece of open property in Northern Oakland Country. In his book, “Digging for the Truth”, author Jeffry Scott Hanson follows fellow author Brandt’s theory of local incineration, taking it a step further to an area funeral home with mob ties. In other words, Hanson says, Hoffa was cremated. Frank Sheeran had said all along that those ordering the hit had maintained in advance that Hoffa’s disappearance would be quick and permanent (“ashes to ashes” was literally a phrase used by the soon to be perpetrators). In other words, the author maintains, he was killed and disposed of within mere miles of his ‘abduction’.
If that is truly the case, Jimmy Hoffa’s body will truly never be found. And yet, the secret will live on as does any great ‘whodunit’ or unsolvable event. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it continues to fuel front page headlines, water cooler discourse and an ever-growing FBI file folder.