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Feds search for Jimmy Hoffa's remains in Oakland Twp. field

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FBI investigators and heavy equipment in an Oakland Township field on Monday. FBI investigators and heavy equipment in an Oakland Township field on Monday.
Labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in July 1975. Labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in July 1975.
OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJBK) -

Using heavy equipment, FBI investigators tore into the ground near the corner of Buell and Adams Road in Oakland Township on Monday hoping to finally unearth answers in the 1975 disappearance of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.

They are acting on a tip from Tony Zerilli, now 85, the son of the former Detroit mob leader.

In his memoir called "The Zerilli Files," he says Hoffa was kidnapped, driven to the northern Oakland County location, bound and gagged and hit over the head with a shovel, then buried alive in a shallow grave.

"Given the fact that he was the son of the boss of the family at the time this event happened and carried the title of underboss during most of this period of time, he'd be somebody who would have been in a position to know," said Keith Corbett.

The former chief of the FBI Organized Crime Strike Force believes this could be the best lead yet.

David Chasnick, Zerilli's lawyer, says his client was in prison when Hoffa disappeared and has been bothered by the dark secret for decades. The 85-year-old has talked with the FBI and visited the site. It is rumored Jack Tocco, boss of the Detroit organized crime family, had title to some of the land.

"There used to be a barn in the field. Buried under the barn under a cement slab, and that's where our understanding is that the body should be," Chasnick said.

The attorney said the FBI has confirmed the slab is still there.

Over the last decade, several extensive searches around metro Detroit have turned up nothing, including one last September at a home in Roseville and a two week search at a horse farm near Milford in 2006.

"I just don't think it's for real," said neighbor Sharon McKay. "There's so many other places they've looked and they haven't found him. Why now?"

"You can't say, well, the chance is one in ten. Well, if you miss that one in ten, what have you done?" Corbett said. "The bureau's been looking for Hoffa for so long that this is a lead they have to pursue.

There likely never will be charges, but authorities say they are hoping to provide closure for the Hoffa family.

The FBI will remain at the site until dark tonight. If nothing is found, they will return on Tuesday morning.

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