Feds digging in Mich. field for Jimmy Hoffa's remains

James R. Hoffa, then Vice-President of the Teamsters Union, testifies on August 20, 1957 in Washington, D.C. before the Senate Rackets Committee. AL MUTO/AFP/Getty Images

Federal agents will begin digging up a field in Northern Oakland Township, Mich. on Monday in hopes of finding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, CBS Detroit reports.

The feds will begin digging on a property in northern Oakland County. The dig -- the latest in what's been nearly a 40-year search -- is the result of extensive FBI interviews with a former mobster. Mafia underboss Tony Zerilli told WDIV-TV in an exclusive interview earlier this year that Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave on the property which is believed to be owned by a family with mob ties.

Zerilli, who was second in command with the Detroit mafia, said he was told by a mafia enforcer that Hoffa was abducted at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township and brought to Buhl Road In Oakland Township and buried. The original plan, according to the mobster, was to bury him there temporarily and then take his body up to northern Michigan and bury him at a hunting lodge.

Zerilli, now 85, was convicted of organized crime as a reputed mafia captain. He was in prison on July, 30 1975 -- when Hoffa disappeared from a Bloomfield Township restaurant -- but says he was informed about Hoffa's whereabouts after his release.

All these years later, why continue to search for Hoffa's body?

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke live Monday morning with local mob expert and author Scott Bernstein who said he doesn't believe there is a body to be found, but, "... I think that the crime itself has taken on an unbelievable amount of legs to ... keep the story in the headlines for 35 years-plus," he said.

"It's a giant black eye for the FBI. It's a piece of local folklore that will always ... beg the attention that it gets," Bernstein said. "And I think in that regard, you know, it speaks for itself."

Bernstein believes Hoffa's body was disposed of in an incinerator.

"That said, you have to follow this lead because it's probably the most credible lead that the FBI's ever gotten ... on this case," said Bernstein, due to the fact that Zerilli, the son of Detroit mafia founder Joe Zerilli, is the most credible person ever to have come forward with information.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a prosecutor at the time of Hoffa's disappearance, says he doesn't think anything will come of this dig. "I've been through this so many times. We've been down this trail, this dead-end street -- I can almost think of a dozen separate times," Patterson said.

"We sent out the backhoes and tore up property, tore down barns or what have you, and ... I don't care how good the tip is in this instance. I am really pretty much a pessimist on this one," Patterson said.

Zerilli has been promoting a book, "Hoffa Found." A website says the book will reveal details about Hoffa's death.

Hoffa was president of the Teamsters union until 1971.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.