The FBI has been searching for Jimmy Hoffa’s remains for 44 years. Nobody has ever been arrested for the biggest mob hit of the 20th Century, but the feds continue to investigate it vigorously four and a half decades later. Ever since the Teamsters boss vanished from a Bloomfield Township, Michigan restaurant parking lot on the afternoon of July 30, 1975 on his way to meet a pair of powerful mobsters (Detroit mafia street boss Tony Giacalone and New Jersey mafia capo Tony Provenzano) to discuss his intention of taking back the union’s presidency (a job he held for 13 years, gave up during a prison stint and one members of organized crime didn’t want him returning to), the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars of resources and man hours trying to find answers.

This is what they’ve found out:

The Jimmy Hoffa Investigation Timeline (1975-2019)

July 30, 1975 – Former Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, 62, disappears on his way to a meeting with powerful mafia captains, Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone out of Hoffa’s hometown of Detroit and Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano out of New Jersey and the Genovese crime family. He’s last seen outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan at around 2:45 p.m. getting into a 1975 maroon-colored Mercury Marquis, believed to be owned by Tony Jack’s son, Joseph (Joey Jack) Giacalone, and being driven away on to Telegraph Road. Hoffa was promised a chance at squashing a beef with Provenzano whose support he needed to win back the Teamsters presidency in 1976.

July 31, 1975 – Jimmy Hoffa’s green-colored Pontiac Grand Ville is found by his close friend and mob associate Louis (Louie the Pope) Linteau sitting in the Red Fox parking lot.

August 2, 1975 – The FBI steps in to take over the Hoffa missing person and homicide probe from the local police.

August 4, 1975 — Detroit mob capo Peter (Bozzy) Vitale is spotted meeting with Genovese crime family boss Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno at Salerno’s New York social club. Investigators believe Vitale was representing the Detroit crime family in filling the Genovese clan in on details of Hoffa’s disappearance and murder.

August 8, 1975 – The FBI obtains a search warrant for Joey Giacalone’s car and finds fingerprints belonging to Hoffa’s surrogate son, Chuckie O’Brien on a soda bottle and a slip of paper inside. O’Brien admits taking possession of the vehicle from Joey Jack the morning of July 30, but denies any involvement in Hoffa’s kidnapping and murder.

August 9, 1975 – The FBI confiscates Joey Giacalone’s car. The 1975 Mercury Marquis is the only piece of substantial physical evidence ever collected by authorities in the high-profile inquiry. Today, the car sits in the garage storage unit of the Detroit FBI office.

August 16, 1975 — New Jersey mobster Ralph (Little Ralphie) Piccardo, Tony Provenzano’s driver, goes to the FBI and tells them Provenzano crew members Stevie and Tommy Andretta visited him in prison in the days after Hoffa disappeared and told him the Provenzano crew was responsible for the hit.

August 21, 1975 – The FBI confirms dogs detected Hoffa’s scent in the backseat and trunk of Joey Giacalone’s Mercury Marquis.

September 2, 1975 – A Federal grand jury is convened in Detroit to explore bringing homicide charges in the Hoffa case. Mobsters from Detroit and New Jersey are subpoenaed to appear and do so in the coming days and weeks to a red-hot media spotlight.

October 30, 1977 — Longtime Detroit mafia don Joe Zerilli dies of heart failure. Zerilli had a seat on the national “Commission,” the American mob’s board of directors. Authorities believe he held the final say on Hoffa murder contract and issued the order to activate the contract through his street boss Tony Giacalone and his nephew and acting boss Jack Tocco.

February 11, 1978 — Detroit mob owned Central Sanitation in Hamtramck, Michigan is destroyed in a suspicious fire. Investigators theorized Central Sanitation may have been a place Hoffa’s body was incinerated at in the hours after his murder.

March 21, 1978 – Genovese crime family soldier Salvatore (Sally Bugs) Briguglio is shot to death in New York’s Little Italy by two masked assailants. Briguglio served as Tony Provenzano’s right hand man. He was the Provenzano crew’s main hit man and was considered by many a prime suspect and the suspected triggerman in the Hoffa hit.

July 30, 1981 – Detroit mob soldier Carlo Licata dies suspiciously in his Bloomfield Township home, referred to in local underworld circles as “The House on the Hill.” The Licata residence, located less than a five minute drive from the Red Fox, was known for hosting meetings between Jimmy Hoffa and Tony Giacalone and some FBI agents believe Hoffa was killed there. Licata was shot in the chest on the six-year anniversary of Hoffa’s disappearance, a death officially ruled a suicide (there were no finger prints on the weapon and it was ten feet from the body). Licata’s dad was Los Angeles mob boss Nick Licata. He was married to the sister of Detroit mafia don Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco. The FBI believes Tocco was central in the planning of the Hoffa hit.

July 30, 1982 – Jimmy Hoffa is declared legally dead on the seven-year anniversary of his disappearance.

June 22, 1982 – Philadelphia mob enforcer-turned-FBI informant Charlie Allen claims Tony Provenzano set the Hoffa hit into motion and Hoffa’s body was “chopped up” and “thrown into a Florida swamp” in testimony before the United States Senate. Allen told legislators he was recruited by Hoffa to kill his successor as Teamster president Frank Fitzsimmons.

December 12, 1988 — New Jersey mafia capo Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano dies of a heart attack at a federal prison in California serving a prison sentence for a labor-union related slaying from the 1960s.

February 1989 – St. Louis Judge Barbara Crancer, Jimmy Hoffa’s daughter, takes the FBI to court for the release of her father’s murder file and eventually wins a ruling to turn over documents related to the probe. The U.S. Attorney’s Office enters an appeal and gets to postpone delivery of the file to the Hoffa family.

June 18, 1989 – Retired Detroit FBI chief Kenny Walton does an interview with the Detroit News and states bluntly he knows who killed Hoffa and how they did it. He further stated the government could never indict anyone in the case in his tenure as head of the feds Motown office (1985-1988) due to the intelligence coming from confidential informants instead of future witnesses in court.

September 20, 1989 – New Jersey mobster-turned-FBI informant Donald (Tony the Greek) Frankos, a former driver and bodyguard for Tony Provenzano, claims Tony Pro killed Hoffa and buried him under a goal post at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

July 27, 1993 — Detroit mob capo Anthony (Tony Pal) Palazzolo is indicted by the feds for running a money laundering business for drug dealers and within the indictment is a portion of a wiretap transcript where Palazzolo bragged to an undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police agent of disposing of Hoffa’s body in his sausage auger.

August 5, 1993 – The U.S. Court of Appeals reverses the decision of the lower court demanding that the FBI fork over their files on the Hoffa murder to his family.

November 2000 – The FBI conducts a meeting in Detroit to discuss ways to spark forward movement in the Hoffa investigation.

February 23, 2001 – Detroit mob street boss Tony Giacalone dies of kidney failure awaiting trial under indictment for federal racketeering. Authorities believe Giacalone planned the details of the Hoffa hit and had his younger brother and fellow mob capo Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone represent him on the job itself.

March 2001 – Through DNA testing, the FBI matches a hair on a brush Hoffa once used and a strand found in Joey Giacalone’s car, leading to a high-priority get-together of current and former investigators aimed at arriving at a consensus of where to go with the Hoffa probe.

March 2002 – The FBI refers the Hoffa case to state prosecutors requesting that authorities in Oakland County, Michigan look into bringing murder charges against those longtime suspects still alive.

August 29, 2002 – Prosecutors in Oakland County announce DNA evidence not conclusive enough to bring charges.

November 2002 — Retired corrections officer Mike Yarbrough informs the FBI he saw Hoffa buried by the Provenzano crew at the Renaissance Center construction site in downtown Detroit the afternoon he disappeared. The “Ren Cen” is the centerpiece of the Motor City skyline and the concrete was being poured in the construction of the multi-tower building the week Hoffa went missing. Yarbrough told investigators he saw Joey Giacalone’s Mercury Marquis at the scene of the burial. The FBI never informed the Oakland County Prosecutor of Yarbrough’s claim.

July 16, 2003 – Acting on a tip from imprisoned murderer Richard Powell, Oakland County Sherriff’s Department deputies search an underground pool in Hampton Township, Michigan looking for evidence of Hoffa’s murder (specifically a syringe and briefcase). The search fails to bear fruit.

December 14, 2003 — Retired east coast mob hit man Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran gives a deathbed confession taking responsibility for being the triggerman in the Hoffa hit. Sheeran worked for Pennsylvania mafia bosses Russell Bufalino and Angelo Bruno and was close friends with Hoffa. Sheeran ran a Delaware Teamsters branch and has his name referenced as a suspect in the famous “Hoffaex” memo.

May 8, 2004 – Police evidence units from Bloomfield Township, Michigan dig up floorboards in the Northwest Detroit home Frank Sheeran said he shot Hoffa to death in but fail to find any DNA match.

March 5, 2006 – Notorious New York hit man Richard (The Iceman) Kuklinski gives a deathbed confession claiming he killed Hoffa, chopped him up and put him in a Toyota bound for Japan to be sold as scrap metal.

May 17, 2006 – Acting on a tip from convicted drug dealer Don Wells, the FBI starts digging for Hoffa’s remains at Hidden Dreams Ranch in Commerce Township, Michigan. Hidden Dreams was the former residence of Hoffa’s Teamster ally-turned-enemy Roland (Big Mac) McMaster. In the years leading up to Hoffa’s homicide, the physically imposing McMaster headed a union goon squad tasked with disrupting the Hoffa re-election campaign by any means necessary. Wells who was living on McMaster’s property, claimed he saw McMaster and others burying a body at Hidden Dreams on the night Hoffa went missing in the summer of 1975.

May 30, 2006 – After almost two weeks at the site, the FBI calls off the Hidden Dreams Ranch dig without finding anything.

July 2008 – Former Canadian mobster Marvin (The Weasel) Elkind, Hoffa’s driver and bodyguard in the 1950s, claims in interviews for a coming book that Tony Giacalone told him Hoffa was buried underneath the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.

February 19, 2012 – Retired Detroit mob underboss Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone dies of natural causes. Some investigators think Billy Jack was the triggerman in the Hoffa hit since he was unaccounted for by his normal FBI surveillance unit the day Hoffa vanished.

September 18, 2012 – Local police dig up the floor of shed in Roseville, Michigan looking for Hoffa under a residential driveway however once again find nothing. The house next to the driveway was once owned by a bookie who had worked for the Giacalone brothers throughout the 1970s and was located in the same neighborhood where feared Giacalone crew enforcers Bernard (Bernie the Hammer) Marchesani and Frank (Frankie the Bomb) Bommarito lived.

June 17, 2013 – Acting on a tip from shelved Detroit mob underboss Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli, the FBI digs at a farm in Oakland Township, Michigan once owned by Detroit mafia don Jack Tocco, Zerilli’s first cousin. Tocco and Zerilli had been feuding since a 1996 racketeering indictment drove a wedge between the two mob princes. In late 2012, Zerilli voluntarily went to the FBI and implicated Tocco, acting boss of the crime family in 1975, in Hoffa’s slaying. Joe Zerilli, Tony Z’s dad and Jack Tocco’s uncle, was boss at the time and signed off on the hit. According to Zerilli, Detroit mobster Tony Palazzolo was Hoffa’s killer.

June 19, 2013 – Despite calling it the biggest break in the case in decades, the FBI ends the dig at the old Tocco farm within 48 hours and without any success.

June 20, 2013 – A confidential source tells the FBI that Hoffa was strangled to death by Tony Provenzano, while Tony Giacalone and Chuckie O’Brien watched on in Joey Giacalone’s car and then his body was disposed of by being put through a wood chipper in Inkster, Michigan. Giacalone and Provenzano were related via marriage and O’Brien had long looked at Giacalone as a father figure.

July 14, 2014 — Detroit mob don Jack Tocco dies of heart failure. The FBI suspects Tocco was one of the main conspirators in Hoffa’s kidnapping and murder.

March 30, 2015 — Deposed Detroit mob underboss Tony Zerilli dies of natural causes in Florida. Zerilli gave the FBI its biggest tip in the Hoffa investigation as a means of payback against Jack Tocco for stripping him of his administrative post atop the crime family their two fathers founded and built.

July 30, 2015 – The undisputed “Godfather” of Hoffa case research Dan Moldea reveals that deceased Genovese crime family soldier Ralph (Brother) Moscato admitted to him in an interview before he passed away that he and childhood friend Sally Bugs Briguglio buried Hoffa’s body at Moscato’s trash dump in Jersey City, New Jersey. Moscato said Hoffa’s body was transported to the Garden State from Detroit in a truck owned by Moscato’s Gateway Transportation.

July 12, 2017 – Dan Moldea reveals a source of his once closely linked to Moscato ties New Jersey Genovese wiseguy Vinnie Ravo to Hoffa’s burial at Moscato’s landfill.

April 9, 2018 — Human remains are found in the demolition of a bar in Dearborn, Michigan owner by reputed Detroit mob associate Freddy Giordano. The FBI is brought in for a look but no connection to the Hoffa case surfaces.

January 4, 2019 — Detroit mob figure Tony Palazzolo dies of cancer. Palazzolo was named by FBI informant as Hoffa’s killer and admitted to getting rid of Hoffa’s body to an undercover policeman in the 1990s.

January 25, 2019 — Retired New Jersey mobster Tommy Andretta dies of natural causes. Andretta and his brother Stevie were two of Tony Pro’s top guys and longtime suspects in the Hoffa murder conspiracy.

June 21, 2019 — Acting on a tip, Michigan State Police search a piece of property in Hillsdale, Michigan once owned by the Badalamenti family, a Detroit mob clan once responsible for the southern region of the state and heavily tied to the construction industry.

Leave a Reply