What to Know
- The FBI searched an area under the Pulaski Skyway on two days last week, but wouldn't confirm a report its latest investigation was tied to the decades-long mystery of Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance
- The Teamsters boss disappeared in July 1975 and was believed to have been killed by the Mafia, but his body has never been found; he was declared legally dead in 1982
- Investigators have spent the last five decades searching for Hoffa's remains everywhere from suburban fields in Detroit to the Everglades to Japan, California, the old Giants Stadium and a Jersey City landfill.
The FBI confirmed Friday it searched a former landfill site under the Pulaski Skyway late last month, though a spokesperson for the Detroit field office, which has been leading the decades-long investigation into the disappearance of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, said she couldn't speak further because the affidavit is sealed.
Her statement didn't mention Hoffa specifically by name, either, or any explicit connection to the half-century mystery that has become one of America's most notorious -- and gripping -- unsolved cases.
The Hoffa case has gripped America for the last half-century and is one of the nation's greatest unsolved mysteries. The Teamsters boss disappeared in July 1975 and was believed to have been killed by the Mafia, but his body has never been found. He was legally declared dead in 1982 -- and investigators have spent the last decades searching for his remains everywhere from suburban Detroit to the Everglades to Japan, California, the old Giants Stadium and a Jersey City landfill.
The FBI first started surveilling that landfill in the weeks after Hoffa disappeared, following up on an anonymous tip that the Teamsters boss had been buried in a large steel drum. That search, like so many others over the years, turned up empty.
And yet, that former landfill site is in the vicinity of the location for which the FBI says it obtained a search warrant to conduct a site survey, which it did on Oct. 25 and 26, according to Detroit office spokesperson Mara Schneider.
"FBI personnel from the Newark and Detroit field offices completed the survey and that data is currently being analyzed," Schneider told News 4 Friday. "Because the affidavit in support of the search warrant was sealed by the court, we are unable to provide any additional information."
Soil samples and other materials dug up from the site will be tested before any further digging can take place, Devin Kowalski, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI Detroit field office, added. He, too, refused to link the October survey to Hoffa.
"The FBI is going to continue to pursue any and all logical leads to deliver justice to the victim of a crime and for as long as it takes," Kowalski told reporters.
A day ago, The New York Times reported the renewed FBI search was prompted by information from the son of a mafia associate who the paper says learned his father's secrets before he died and then left those with another man before his own passing. The last search of the vicinity in connection with the case came in 2020 and according to the Times, ground-penetrating radar showed shapes that could possibly be barrels, like the steel drum Hoffa was rumored to have been put in.
It's not clear how long it might take for the FBI to process the analysis from its latest site survey -- and it's not clear how quickly the agency would release any details.
What Happened to Jimmy Hoffa?
The leading suspect in Hoffa's disappearance, a longtime associate named Charles "Chuckie" O'Brien, died in February 2020 in Florida at the age of 86.
O'Brien was a constant companion to Hoffa in the decades when the labor leader developed the Teamsters into one of the largest and most powerful unions in the nation from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. After Hoffa's still-unsolved disappearance in 1975, O'Brien became a leading suspect when the federal government publicly accused him of picking up Hoffa and driving him to his death.
His stepson called the accusation false, but said "practically" everyone believed it.
FBI agents questioned O'Brien about the death at least a dozen times.
In an interview with The Associated Press in 2006, O'Brien denied having anything to do with Hoffa's disappearance and said he didn't think the mystery of his death would ever be solved.
O’Brien said he viewed Hoffa as a father figure. He was a child when Hoffa took him in, along with his mother.
“It’s very frustrating. I have so much inside, my love for him and his family,” O’Brien said.
Hoffa was Teamsters president from 1957 to 1971. The FBI has said his disappearance was probably connected to his attempts to regain power in the union. It was known that Hoffa intended to testify before the special U.S. Senate investigative panel, known as the Church Committee, about Mafia involvement in U.S.-backed plots to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, O'Brien told the AP.