FBI Calls Off Search for Jimmy Hoffa Body After Finding No Remains

Agents searched a field in suburban Detroit, where an alleged former Mafia boss told NBC 4 New York exclusively the labor leader was buried

By Marc Santia
|  Friday, Aug 23, 2013  |  Updated 12:30 PM EDT
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A former Jimmy Hoffa associate talks to NBC 4 New York exclusively as the search for Hoffa's body was rekindled in Michigan. Marc Santia reports.

NBC 4 New York

A former Jimmy Hoffa associate talks to NBC 4 New York exclusively as the search for Hoffa's body was rekindled in Michigan. Marc Santia reports.

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Federal authorities have ended their search of a suburban Detroit field for Jimmy Hoffa's body after several days of digging turned up no remains, officials said.

Special Agent in Charge Bob Foley said Wednesday that a "diligent" search yielded no additional evidence in the decades-old mystery, and that the operation would be shut down. 

News of the shuttered operation came a day after authorities found concrete slabs in the field, a discovery that aligned with a Mafia captain's tip that led to the renewed search.

Tony Zerilli told NBC 4 New York exclusively earlier this year that Hoffa's remains were buried beneath a concrete slab in the field. He was in prison at the time of Hoffa's disappearance, but says he was told after his release about where Hoffa was buried. 

He sat down again with NBC 4 New York Monday, satisfied that FBI agents appeared to finally be taking his story seriously. 

"I'm glad to see it. I'm glad to hear it," said Zerilli, who has written a book about his experience. "Now everyone will know what I told them is what happened." 

Authorities used heavy machinery and cadaver dogs, and also dug by hand, but found no signs of Hoffa's body in the field. Foley said there were no plans to conduct further searches in the area.

Law enforcement sources have said Zerilli, who was second in command of Detroit's mob family when Hoffa disappeared, is the most credible person to speak since Hoffa disappeared in July 1975. 

Hoffa, Teamsters president from 1957-71, was an acquaintance of mobsters and an adversary of federal officials. The day in 1975 when he disappeared from a Detroit-area restaurant, he was supposed to be meeting with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain.

Since then, multiple leads to his remains have turned out to be red herrings.

In September, police took soil from a suburban backyard after a tip Hoffa had been buried there. It was just one of many fruitless searches. Previous tips led police to a horse farm northwest of Detroit in 2006, a Detroit home in 2004 and a backyard pool two hours north of the city in 2003.

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