ROSEVILLE, Mich. (AP) — State investigators will take soil samples from outside a home in suburban Detroit as police continue looking into a man’s claim that a body he says he saw buried in a backyard 35 years ago might have been that of missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
The samples are set to be removed Friday morning from beneath the driveway of a home in Roseville and eventually tested for human decomposition.
Hoffa was last seen July 30, 1975, outside a restaurant in Oakland County, more than 30 miles to the west.
The results could put the rest the latest turn in the search for Hoffa’s remains.
Previous tips led police to excavate soil in 2006 at a horse farm more than 100 miles north of Detroit, rip up floorboards at a Detroit home in 2004, and search beneath a backyard pool north of the city in 2003.
There were even rumors that Hoffa’s remains were ground up and tossed into a Florida swamp, entombed beneath Giants Stadium in New Jersey or obliterated in a mob-owned fat-rendering plant.
One local theory was that the body was beneath the foundation of a downtown Detroit hockey stadium, said 57-year-old Cindi Frank, who snapped photos Thursday of the Roseville driveway.
The daughter of a unionized driver and salesman for a Detroit bakery, Frank remembers conversations about Hoffa while he was alive and rumors about his fate.
“It was a family thing. Every time we’d go somewhere we’d say, ‘Hey, I wonder if Jimmy Hoffa is buried there?’” Frank said. “It’s just been one of those unsolved mysteries that’s gone on for 30-something years. If he show up in Roseville …”
Results of the soil samples taken Friday are not expected before next week.
News of the search has brought attention to the mostly working- and middle-class suburb from the curious and naysayers. Slowly moving vehicles have clogged the residential street as camera-wielding neighbors snapped photos for keepsakes.
“I believe it’s him. My sister said it is, and she’s a psychic,” said Mike Smith after ambling up to the home Thursday and shying a bit from the yellow police tape stretched across the driveway.
Feisty and iron-willed in contract talks, Hoffa was an acquaintance of mobsters and adversary to federal officials. He spent time in prison for jury tampering.
The day he disappeared, Hoffa was supposed to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit mafia captain. He was declared legally dead in 1982.
At the request of police, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality used ground-penetrating radar last week on the Roseville driveway. An anomaly, or shift, in the soil was detected.
Police Chief James Berlin told The Associated Press on Thursday that his office is “not claiming it’s Jimmy Hoffa” beneath the slab but that they are “investigating a body that may be at the location.”
Roseville was one of several inner-ring communities that grew quickly as unionized auto factory workers left the city in search of nicer homes and bigger yards.
“Maybe the most inconspicuous spot might be the place to stash a body or something,” said 52-year-old Andrew Kacir, who lives across from the taped off driveway.
Recently retired Detroit FBI chief Andrew Arena is among the doubters.
“You’ve got to check it out, but this doesn’t sound right,” he told the AP. “The working theories that have developed over the years, this really doesn’t fit any of those. If this was the mob and they killed somebody, I just don’t see them burying the body basically at the intersection of a residential neighborhood with this guy standing there.”