James 'Jimmy' Hoffa, left, and his son James P. Hoffa wait at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport en route to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., after visiting 'Jimmy' Hoffa's wife at a hospital in San Francisco. 'Jimmy' Hoffa was returning to prison under the custody of his son, April 12, 1971.

Hoffa Family 'Forced to Relive the Loss' as FBI Agents Excavate Michigan Field

FBI agents and police look for ever-evasive resolution to 37-year-old case.

James 'Jimmy' Hoffa, left, and his son James P. Hoffa wait at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport en route to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., after visiting 'Jimmy' Hoffa's wife at a hospital in San Francisco. 'Jimmy' Hoffa was returning to prison under the custody of his son, April 12, 1971.

Jimmy Hoffa, left, and his son James P. Hoffa wait at an airport en route to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., after visiting Hoffa's wife at a hospital in San Francisco, April 12, 1971.

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FBI agents and Oakland County, Mich., police are overseeing the excavation of a field north of Detroit, where they hope to find the remains of former International Brotherhood of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975, and has been missing ever since. His disappearance has inspired similar excavations and numerous conspiracy theories.

The Teamsters, a 1.4 million-member labor union currently led by Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, released a muted statement to U.S. News on the search.

"The Hoffa family does not respond every time a tip is received by authorities," said spokeswoman Leigh Strope. "Unfortunately, they have been through this numerous times. We ask that people be respectful of the Hoffa family as they are forced to relive the loss of their father and grandfather in the national spotlight once again."

[RELATED: A Look Back at Hoffa's Disappearance on His 100th Birthday]

Indeed, rumors and false tips have led to a swarm of FBI agents and flurries of news coverage in the past. In 2006, 40 to 50 FBI agents visited a farm in Milford, Mich., after receiving a tip from a 75-year-old prison inmate who told investigators he witnessed Hoffa's burial at an exact location on the farm. A 100-foot horse barn was torn down, but Hoffa's remains were not found at the farm, which was owned in 1975 by a former Teamsters official. In 2009, FBI agents excavated a Detroit lumberyard, but the former union leader's body wasn't found there, either. A 2012 FBI-led search under a Roseville, Mich., driveway also failed to find his remains.

"They hold out hope that they will one day learn what happened," the Teamsters spokeswoman said on behalf of the Hoffa family. "Law enforcement officials keep the family informed, and they will have no comment until there is a reason to comment."

Designated spokespeople for the FBI's Detroit field office and the Oakland County Sheriff's Office did not answer their phones Monday afternoon.

[PHOTOS: The Long Hunt for Jimmy Hoffa]

"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," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Foley said in a released statement quoted by the Detroit Free Press. "[I]f information does become available to the extent that we can share it, we certainly will."

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard was similarly vague.

"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," Bouchard said, according to the Free Press. "It's long overdue."

The tipster who inspired Monday's dig seems to be 85-year-old former mobster Tony Zerilli. "I know all about it, [but] I wasn't involved, no way, shape or form," Zerilli told WDIV-TV in January. Zerilli said Hoffa was buried about 20 miles from where he disappeared on a rural property, near Adams Road and Orion Road in Oakland County - the approximate location of the FBI's current search.

 

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