Today was the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
Hoffa, who greatly expanded the membership and power of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in the 1950s, was scheduled to meet associates for lunch on July 30, 1975 at the Machus Red Fox restaurant near Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, approximately 25 miles northwest of General Motors headquarters in downtown Detroit, and not too far from the then-brand new Pontiac Silverdome, home to the Detroit Lions from 1975 through 2001.
Hoffa was the subject of several major criminal investigations, the most notable of which were that of the Senate committee headed by Arkansas’ John McClellan, and later by Robert F. Kennedy, who stepped up his pursuit of Hoffa after he was named Attorney General by his brother in 1961. The Teamsters president was convicted of bribery in 1964, but did not report to prison until 1967 following
On Christmas Day 1971, Hoffa was pardoned by President Nixon, although the pardon stipulated Hoffa could not seek the presidency of the Teamsters until 1980. Hoffa ignored the provision, and by 1975, was planning his comeback to the top.
There were numerous leads and searches for Hoffa’s body, but it has never been found. He was declared dead in absentia by the state of Michigan in 1982.
The most likely scenario is he was kidnapped and murdered by a group of Teamsters with deep connections to the mob, led by Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, a caporegmie (captain or capo) in New York City’s Genovese crime family. Provenzano was staunchly against Hoffa regaining the Teamsters’ presidency. The probable explanation is Provenzano and associates Anthony (Tony Jac) Giacalone and Salvador (Sally Bugs) Bruguglio, among others, took Hoffa, beat him to death and then either encased his body in concrete or shred it to small pieces.
In June 1978, Provenznao was convicted of the 1961 murder in upstate New York of Anthony Castellito, whose body was shredded in much the same manner as which happened to Hoffa.
The joke for many years was Hoffa was buried underneath Giants Stadium, which was under construction at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance. It opened a year later and hosted the Giants for the next 34 seasons, and then the Jets from 1984-2009. When the stadium was razed after Met Life Stadium was built, no trace of a body was found.
Hoffa’s son, James R. Hoffa, is currently president of the Teamsters. His daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, was a judge for many years in St. Louis.
Those who grow up in New Orleans know all about famous people disappearing.
Hale Boggs, a longtime U.S. Representative from the Big Easy, was in an airplane which disappeared over the Alaska wilderness October 16, 1972. He was flying from Anchorage to Juneau for a fund raiser with Alaska Rep. Nick Begich. It was the largest search in United States history at the time, spanning 39 days and involving the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. Boggs, who became House Majority Leader in 1971, was declared dead by the House three days into 1973. His widow, Lindy, was elected to his seat in March of that year and served through 1990. Lindy, the mother of former ABC commentator Cokie Roberts, was later the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican before she passed away in 2013 at age 97.
Hoffa, Boggs, Natalee Holloway…where are you?