Authorities hopeful new search will turn up Jimmy Hoffa

DETROIT — A steady stream of curious onlookers snapped photos of a rural Oakland Township, Mich., field lined with yellow caution tape and TV news vans clustered in a nearby parking lot.

“It’s national news,” said Marjorie DiLiddo, 64, holding up a camera as her husband, Ron DiLiddo, walked their English springer spaniel named Zack nearby. “It’s a big mystery for this area. I think it would be wonderful for the family if they could find closure.”

On Monday, investigators, a tipster and curious onlookers hoped for just that as the FBI led a search for Jimmy Hoffa’s body in the field. But their optimism was tempered, given that it is the latest in a series of digs since the Teamsters boss went missing, setting off one of the 20th century’s most vexing mysteries.

This property came under scrutiny in January after Tony Zerilli, 85, the son of reputed former Detroit mob boss Joseph Zerilli, told broadcast media that Hoffa, 62, was buried there. Zerilli claims Hoffa was struck with a shovel and then buried alive on the property, with a slab of concrete placed over the body.

Hoffa was kidnapped on the afternoon of July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of what was then the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Mich.

“It’s my fondest hope that we can give … closure not just to the Hoffa family, but also to the community and stop tearing that scab off with every new lead and bring some conclusion,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said just after 11 a.m. Monday. “It’s long overdue.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Foley III of the Detroit office said the FBI was executing a search warrant in the grassy field.

“Because this investigation is an open investigation and the search warrant is sealed, I will not be able to provide any additional details regarding our activity here,” Foley said, as a truck carrying a backhoe arrived at the site behind him.

Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, a retired state judge in St. Louis, said the FBI called her Sunday to alert her of the search, and she’s closely following it online. She said she hadn’t heard Zerilli’s story until he came forward several months ago.

“We never get our hopes up,” Crancer said. “We’ll just let the FBI do their job, and we’ll see what happens. That’s all we can do. I want everybody to know that I appreciate the FBI following up on this.”

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