May 31, 2006 in Nation/World

FBI abandons dig for Hoffa’s remains

Tim Jones Chicago Tribune
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Chilen
(Full-size photo)

DETROIT – Where’s Jimmy Hoffa? Apparently not on the grounds of a suburban Detroit horse farm.

Nearly two weeks after the FBI acted on what it called the best recent tip on the whereabouts of the missing former Teamsters Union boss, agents ended a “thorough and comprehensive search” Tuesday without finding any evidence of Hoffa’s body.

While giving up the dig of property in Milford Township, about 35 miles northwest of Detroit, Judy Chilen, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office, said she believes Hoffa’s body had been buried on the Hidden Dreams Farm, although she could offer no evidence that it had been moved.

Chilen said the FBI has not given up the search for the labor leader who disappeared almost 31 years ago and was officially declared dead in 1982.

“There are still prosecutable defendants who are living, and they know who they are,” Chilen said at an afternoon news conference.

This unsuccessful search began May 17 and included archaeologists, anthropologists, geologists, cadaver dogs and dozens of FBI agents and police officials.

Aided by heavy earthmoving equipment, they worked for almost two weeks and ripped down a horse barn in the process. The highly publicized dig attracted TV crews with satellite towers and seemed to delight some local business owners who sold Hoffa cupcakes and Teamster tacos.

But with no hints that the search was going anywhere, the effort started to draw fire this week from those, including a Detroit-area congressman, who questioned the cost. Louis Fischetti, supervisory special agent with the Detroit FBI office, said the search is expected to cost less than $250,000.

In response to criticism, Chilen said the FBI does “not put a price tag on murder and kidnapping. … We go where the evidence leads us,” she said.

Hoffa disappeared in late July 1975 after he was to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia chief, both of whom are dead.

The horse farm was once owned by a Hoffa associate and has been described as a meeting place for mob members, before Hoffa’s disappearance. The FBI’s interest in the farm was renewed recently when they received a tip from a federal inmate who once lived on the farm. The FBI corroborated some of the evidence provided, which led them to seek a search warrant this month.


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