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What Actually Happened To Jimmy Hoffa

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

James ‘Jimmy’ Hoffa was the former president of the Teamsters Union, the most powerful man in America aside from the President, and Hoffa was also one of the most controversial Labor Organizers of his time. By July 1975, he had exhausted most of his options and was desperate to regain the control of his union from his successor Frank Fitzsimmons (According to WDIV Detroit and His Family). Unfortunately, for Hoffa, the other biggest voice in the Teamsters was the Mafia, who were making between 500 million and 1 billion dollars on the Teamsters. The union reportedly found it easier to work with Fitzsimmons than Hoffa (According to Dan Moldea, Author of Hoffa Wars). But by July of 1975, it was clear what had been a years-long feud between the Mob and Hoffa wasn’t going to end, and out of fear that Hoffa would release secrets to the FBI, the decision was made that Jimmy Hoffa had to go. This begs the question which people are going to try to answer, what happened on that fateful July day and why, who killed Jimmy Hoffa, and where is his body?

On July 30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa drove to the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield, Michigan. Hoffa’s rise to power can really be traced back to organized crime. “This is a story of power, there was nothing Jimmy Hoffa wouldn’t do to have it. And when he lost it, nothing he wouldn’t do to get it back,” said Steve Garagiola during his podcast “Shattered.” Hoffa became president of the largest Union in the world, the Teamsters, in 1957. Early on, Jimmy Hoffa was brought into the Organized Crime scene of the United States, and with his powerful friends he would rise fast and make a lot of money. Workers saw hope in Hoffa; the Mob saw opportunity. “In a lot of ways, Hoffa was a mobster parading as a Labour Organizer,” said Scott Bernstein, an author and true crime expert (according to Shattered Podcast). His reign ended as president when he was arrested for his crimes, and he gave power to Frank Fitzimmons, always expecting that he would get the power back. However, when he got out in 1972, it was clear that wouldn’t happen. Finally when things looked desperate for Hoffa, and it looked like Hoffa could possibly become an informant, decisions were made -- Jimmy Hoffa had to go (According to Michael Franzese Channel).

By 1975, it became clear to Jimmy Hoffa, as one crime expert, Scott Bernstein, put it, “He (Jimmy Hoffa) realized the Mob doesn’t want him back. They don’t want him in the presidency again, that they will do everything in their effort to prevent him from coming back.” That’s when, in hopes of regaining his power, Jimmy Hoffa is believed to have organized a meeting with Anthony Provenzano, both a Mafia and Teamster Official from New Jersey, and Anthony Giacalone, the public face of the Detroit Mafia, and from there, Hoffa was never seen again. One claim was made by high-up Union Officer and suspected Mob associate Frank Sheeran, who was also a good friend of Jimmy Hoffa. Sheeran claims in a book that he was close to Russel Buffalino, a major Mob boss in Pennsylvania, and took on the role of hired muscle, saying he and two others, Hoffa’s adopted son and Mob soldier, Salvatore Briguglio, took Hoffa to a house in Detroit and killed him there (WDIV Detroit), after which he was cremated. But many believe the claim was to sell copies, and Sheeran wasn’t high up enough to have been the one behind the trigger, “Frank Sheeran, The Irishman, absolutely 100% did not kill Hoffa… That story has been debunked so many times. Absolutely not,” said Michael Franzese, a former Mafia boss in New York (The Michael Franzese Channel). Anthony Provenzano, the man who was suspected of having that meeting with Hoffa that day was also suspected, as he had become bitter enemies with Hoffa over power, and making peace with Provenazno was what Hoffa needed to win back power. Some believe the highest Mob bosses in the nation lured Hoffa into a trap with the idea of peace with Provenzano, brokered by Detroit mob figure Anthony Giacalone, where a hitman would get Hoffa into a car, and kill him. After a 90-minute wait, witnesses say they saw Jimmy Hoffa get into a Maroon Mercury Car with ‘several’ men inside, which was the last time he would be seen. Suspects believed to be in the car were Charles ‘Chuckie’ O’Brien (Hoffa’s foster son), Thomas Andretta (a known Mob associate), and Salvatore Briguglio (a known Soldier in the Mafia). Hoffa’s daughter claimed to have had a vision of her father, slumped over and dead later, whom she was already sure was dead. A Grand Jury was organized in Detroit, but no one was ever charged with Hoffa’s death.

The thing that has always kept this mystery alive is, where is Jimmy Hoffa? There have been more than five digs for Hoffa’s body (according to WDIV) yet there have been no results, which Detroit Mob historian, Sam Bernstein, said was because of a mob cover-up. “They (Mob members) would intentionally tell people 30 different things (about Hoffa’s Disappearance). And these 30 different people they were telling this were telling people who would be in the know, which would then filter out” said Bernstein, who also noted Mafia member’s unwillingness to speak of Hoffa’s disappearance even in private. Two experts, Bernstein and U.S. attorney Keith Korbett have come to the same conclusion, that Hoffa’s body was disposed of at Central Sanitation, a Mob-owned business in Hamtramck, Michigan where Hoffa was incinerated. That business would burn down only months later (WDIV), preventing any investigation. Another theory comes from Teamster Donovan Wells, which claimed Hoffa’s body was laid in the farm of Roland McMasters, in Milford. His wife claimed while looking out their window toward Pontiac trail in 1975, she witnessed two cars come screeching into a dirt road which led into the back where a hole existed (According to FBI). This was where she says she saw a sheet and then a body fall in. Despite the dig there by authorities being inconclusive, many say that is because they dug in the incorrect place. Another claim among many comes from Hoffa’s former driver and Mob associate Marvin Elkins. Mr. Elkins claims during a Teamsters convention in the 70s, as he walked with Tony Giacalone and a group of others past the Renaissance Center, Giacalone turned to the group and said, “Boys. Say good morning to Mr. Hoffa.”

There are many ideas as to what happened to Hoffa. Some believe the FBI knows who killed Jimmy Hoffa; others continue to theorize and debate. When the Farmbrook Free Press Media Co. in New York reached out to the FBI on the Hoffa case, they were told the Bureau cannot comment on open cases (According to Farmbrook Free Press Board of Directors). Most people involved are gone, beyond some peripheral figures, making this harder to solve. In the 1990s, James P. Hoffa, Hoffa’s son, became President of the Teamsters Union, fulfilling many of his father’s planned policies (According to Brittanica Encyclopedia). James R. Hoffa’s disappearance on that fateful July-30th Day will remain one of the most enduring mysteries in American History, and maybe one day it will be solved.

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