FBI dig for clues to Hoffa mystery
May 18, 2006 (WLS) -- The digging continued Thursday at a Michigan farm where FBI agents are looking for clues to one of the great mysteries in US history, the disappearance of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa.
The digging began Wednesday at the property outside of Detroit. One agent is describing the lead that led them to the farm as one of the best ever.
The horse farm outside Detroit now being searched by federal agents is called "Hidden Dreams." The question is: are the remains of Jimmy Hoffa also hidden there? In 1975 when Hoffa seemed to have evaporated from earth, the farm was owned by one of his closest teamsters union allies. Authorities searched the farm at the time and found nothing.
But the I-Team has learned that recently a federal prison inmate gave investigators new information that has sent them back to the farm digging for clues.
More than 50 federal agents, soil experts and college archeologists converged on Milford, Michigan to look for what the search warrant calls "the human remains of James Riddle Hoffa."
"I've been the agent in charge and this is the best lead I've seen come across on the Hoffa investigation. You can see from the amount of FBI and police department personnel out here that this is probably a fairly credible lead," said Daniel Roberts, FBI-Detroit.
FBI officials declined to give any details about the new information about why they are searching the farm almost 31 years after the last time they were in Milford right after Hoffa disappeared.
But here's what we know:
- It was July of 1975 when Hoffa disappeared after a lunchdate at this suburban Detroit restaurant.
- He had called his wife from a phonebooth at an adjacent shopping center and was never heard from again.
- one of Hoffa's closest union confidantes at the time was a man named Rolland "Red" McMaster. Now 93 years old, McMaster used to own this farm where the FBI has returned to begin a two-week excavation.
- A former associate of McMaster's-now in federal prison-provided authorities with new leads that prompted them to look for Hoffa's remains on the farm.
The federal team working in Michigan includes two FBI evidence experts from the Chicago field office. So far they have found no evidence of Jimmy Hoffa at this location and are being assisted by anthropologists from Michigan State University in analyzing the dirt.
This is the third time in three years that federal agents have gone to a location to dig for Jimmy Hoffa clues, the previous operations unearthed nothing...
The federal prison inmate who provided the horse farm tip is said to have passed a lie detector test. FBI agents have paid a visit to the former farm owner, Red McMaster, who worked with Hoffa until the day Hoffa disappeared.
Law enforcement sources say they have long considered McMaster an important piece in the Hoffa puzzle because of his connections to the late Chicago outfit boss Sam Giancana and the fact that the Chicago mob had muscled control of the teamsters pension funds when Hoffa vanished.
McMaster once speculated that Hoffa wasn't dead, that he "ran off to brazil with a black go-go dancer".
Investigators take 'wait-and-see' approach
Chicago FBI agents are helping in the digging operation outside Detroit. In this Intelligence Report: why some investigators take a wait-and-see attitude about this latest chapter in one of the country's biggest mysteries.
The Jimmy Hoffa case is forever intertwined with Chicago, from the top hoodlums who are suspected of having a role in his disappearance to the FBI agents who spent their careers searching to solve the puzzle. Federal investigators who know the case inside out, tell the ABC7 I-Team that they are skeptical of the lead that has led authorities back to that suburban detroit Horse farm.
The James r. Hoffa file at FBI headquarters in Washington is thick. The "R." in Hoffa's name actually stands for "Riddle," his mother's maiden name. But former Chicago FBI agent, now private investigator, Joe Brennan says the riddle of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa was actually solved years ago.
According to Brennan, the FBI knew what happened to Hoffa en route to his last meal at a suburban Detroit eatery. Shortly after Hoffa called his wife from a payphone near the restaurant -- these were pre-cell phone days -- authorities believe he was from his behind the wheel of his own car in the parking lot. Agents believe he was stuffed into the trunk of a second car and driven away by two outfit hitmen, including a New Jersey hoodlum named Sal "Sally Bugs" Briguglio, who himself was silenced in a gangland hit a few years later.
Jailhouse snitches and mob insiders told the FBI that Hoffa's body was put into a 55 gallon oil drum, put on a truck and driven to New Jersey, where they say mob boss Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano was waiting for proof Hoffa had been taken out. According to an FBI source, Provenzano popped the lid of the drum, saw Hoffa's head under the platter, and sent the packaged remains to the Meadowlands Sports Complex or had it dumped in the Atlantic. That is why Brennan and other FBI agents who worked the case today are wary of the horse farm being Hoffa's final resting place.
The farm, once owned by a close Hoffa's union ally, was also a popular mob meeting spot, a well-secluded retreat for Chicago outfit boss Sam Giancana and Chicago hoodlums who had business to discuss with their Detroit counterparts led by Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone.
The farm is an unlikely location, say some veteran agents, for a body to buried. Nonetheless, dozens of FBI agents with heavy equipment have descended on this farm that was first searched in 1975 to no avail.
"There have been a number of leads out in this area that have been covered over the last 30 years," said Daniel Roberts , FBI-Detroit.
New Jersey mafia capo Tony Provenzano died by heart attack in 1988. Authors and armchair criminologists just assume that Provenzano had Hoffa killed to prevent Hoffa's return to the teamsters. But Joe Brennan and other FBI insiders believe Tony Pro was motivated by a personal grudge, that when he and Hoffa were in the same Pennsylvania prison in the late 60's and 70's, Hoffa disrespected the mob boss and that, on his last July 30, came to regret it.
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