The Hoffa Files: The Missing Body of Jimmy Hoffa - 8 News NOW

George Knapp, Investigative Reporter

The Hoffa Files: The Missing Body of Jimmy Hoffa

Posted: Updated:

It's been more than 30 years since Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. The FBI believes Hoffa was murdered by the mob, but no one has been able to find his body.

You could say the murder of Jimmy Hoffa began and ended in Las Vegas. Hoffa was killed because of mob activities on the Las Vegas Strip. And, it's likely the only person still alive with personal knowledge of Hoffa's death is someone who lives today in a quiet Las Vegas neighborhood.

People have been digging around for Jimmy Hoffa's body for a long time. There's a good reason they haven't found it.

Jimmy Hoffa, Teamsters president, said, "I don't intend to have the impression left that I'm controlled by gangsters. I'm not controlled by them."

Click here to post your comments on The Hoffa Files blog.

Hoffa wasn't controlled by gangsters, but he certainly was beholden to the mob, which had helped him land the Teamsters presidency in the first place. Hoffa's successor, Frank Fitzsimmons was under Mafia control, according to lawmen, and did what he was told, especially regarding loans to Las Vegas casinos. Hoffa was a threat to that arrangement. In July 1975, he vanished forever.

Former organized crime prosecutor, Stan Hunterton said, "Everyone was sure organized crime did it and everyone was sure he was dead. He hadn't just disappeared or gone to a monastery."

Stan Hunterton and everyone else in the Detroit Strike Force office were galvanized by Hoffa's vanishing act. Within a few months, the FBI had compiled the Hoffex memo, a list of nine solid suspects. They knew Hoffa had gone to a certain restaurant and was picked up in a certain car, supposedly to attend a meeting with Mafia figures Tony Giacalone and Tony Provenzano. But that's where the trail grew cold.

In the ensuing decades, there have been many unsuccessful searches for Hoffa's remains, including a massive dig at a Michigan farm this summer. All manner of rumors have surfaced about the body being under Giants Stadium, or in a swamp, or chopped into dog food. No one knew for sure, except the killers.

Frank "The Irishman" Sheerhan was a Teamster official, Hoffa condifante, and Mafia hitman.   Near the end of his life, as he was dying of cancer, he confessed to his longtime lawyer Charles Brandt that it was he who gunned down Hoffa at this house in Detroit.

Charles Brandt: "How many shots were fired at Jimmy?"

Frank Sheerhan: "Two."

Charles Brandt: "You were the shooter?"

Frank Sheerhan: "That's right."

Brandt wrote a book based on Sheerhan's confession, I Heard You Paint Houses. The book has convinced former prosecutor Stan Hunterton and others that Sheerhan is telling the truth.   Forensic evidence taken from the car and from the house support Sheerhan's version. In the FBI's original Hoffex memo, Sheerhan was listed as a prime suspect. The feds did their best to pressure him into talking.

Charles Brandt said, "They went after him for anything. If he squeezed the Charmin in the supermarket, they would have arrested him. They hounded him and they got him. Sent him to prison for labor racketeering for 32 years."

But the only person Sheerhan talked to was Brandt, literally a deathbed confession. So what happened to Hoffa's body?

Frank Sheerhan: "Took the body to an incinerator, a funeral parlor. Yeah. How was it connected? They were friends of the people in Detroit."

Charles Brandt: "Jimmy was put in an incinerator and cremated?"

Frank Sheerhan: "Yeah."

According to Sheerhan, two other men were waiting inside the house for Hoffa. They were cleaners, Sheerhan said, assigned to handle the scene and the body.

Charles Brandt: "What happens to the blood in the house?"

Frank Sheerhan: "Clean up guys to clean up. They had to make sure everything's okay, everything's wiped down and all."

Sheerhan identified the cleaners as brothers, Tom and Steve Andretta. Those same names are listed among the FBI's original suspects. Hoffa's body was bagged and whisked to a mortuary that was less than two minutes drive from the house where it was immediately cremated.

Charles Brandt: "How incredibly easy it would have been in 1975 to dispose of a body in one of those ovens? The box is never opened. It's sealed. An hour after it's gone, all trace of Hoffa is gone. His jewelry is dust."

Frank Sheerhan: "If they would have buried him in the ground, they would have found him.  They didn't cause there was nothing left but dust."

As for the alleged cleaners, both served prison time following Hoffa's death. Steve Andretta died a few years ago. His brother Tommy -- now 68 -- lives in Las Vegas in a quiet neighborhood. The I-Team sent a request for an interview but received no response.

This may not be the final word on the Hoffa mystery, but those who know the case well say all the pieces fit.

Stan Hunterton commented, "It may not have happened exactly that way, but I think that's the gist of it."

While no one was ever convicted for the Hoffa murder, the Department of Justice prosecuted more than 30 mob figures for other crimes uncovered during the Hoffa investigation. Basically, everyone linked to the case did time for one crime or another, including Frank Sheerhan and Las Vegan Tommy Andretta.

Click here to email Investigative Reporter George Knapp.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.