Living in the world we do, there are several mysterious disappearances that take place on a regular basis. Some of these disappearances however leave an incredible legacy on the world. One of these cases is the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa – once the President of the powerful labour union ‘International Brotherhood of Teamsters’. Hoffa led an intriguing life, being imprisoned during his Presidential term, before securing his release. Yet in 1975, he vanished. Last seen in a parking lot, his whereabouts are unknown to this day. This week’s Sunday Read takes a look at Hoffa’s disappearance, and reviews some of the possible explanations suggested in the case.
As mentioned in the introduction, Hoffa was well-known for being President of America’s largest union – the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. This was a union for both blue collar and professional workers, boasting a membership of well over a million people. Hoffa was the President from 1958 to 1971. Hoffa was instrumental in the development of modern-day Las Vegas – providing loans from union pension funds to help the start of several establishments – like Caesars Palace.
However, not everything surrounding Hoffa was positive. Unfortunately, the union had a history of mafia influence – including influece from Al Capone. It wasn’t a surprise when Hoffa was sentenced to prison for a range of crimes – from jury-tampering to fraud. Yet in a deal with President Richard Nixon, Hoffa was released early in 1971, though at the cost of being unable to take part in any union-related activities until 1980. Hoffa therefore resigned as President of the union – a position he’d held even during his prison term. However, Hoffa was handed $1.7M for his pension from the union. Hoffa tried to overturn the ruling regarding the lack of union activities.
Yet Hoffa began a slow comeback, using his influence to get back into the picture. On 30 July, 1975, some time after 2.45pm, Jimmy Hoffa vanished. He had arrived at the parking lot of the Red Fox Restaurant at 2.00pm. This was in a suburb of Detroit. He told friends that he was going to see mafia bosses Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano. At 2:30pm, Hoffa called his wife to say he would wait a few more minutes, presumably for Giacalone and Provenzano, who seemingly hadn’t showed up. Soon after, there was no trace of Hoffa. His wife reported him as missing in the evening. Attentions in the aftermath turned to Giacalone and Provenzano – yet they had iron-clad alibis.
Unlike many other disappearances, there isn’t really a logical answer for this case. Hoffa hasn’t been seen or heard from since, with no body ever showing up. He was declared legally dead seven years later in 1982. Hoffa hadn’t been in a position of huge power at the time – although he was working his way back up. As is the case with any disappearance – there have been a raft of theories suggested. Yet it appears we will never know for sure what happened. So what are the theories?
A truck driver claimed to have seen Hoffa in the back seat of a car that left the restaurant on that day. Yet that seemingly was the final sighting of Hoffa, and it couldn’t be verified. One book on the case suggested Frank Sheeran – a professional killer for the mafia, assassinated Hoffa. Yet despite Sheeran confessing to the murder, the blood at the supposed crime scene didn’t belong to Hoffa. An FBI report revealed the belief that he was murdered due to the danger he would pose if he regained power – based around the ever-controversial union pension fund. Investigators reportedly found two weeks prior to his disappearance, evidence of hundreds of millions of dollars being stolen from the pension fund. This belief could tie in with the truck driver’s sighting – which could mean Hoffa was being driven to his death, before his body was hidden. Urban legend has it that Hoffa was buried at the Giant’s stadium – something which was proven as untrue in 2010 when the stadium was demolished without any human remains being found.
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This case is still unsolved to this day. While the above theories have been proposed, none have been able to be verified. Some suggest Hoffa vanished intentionally, with the help of the hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the pension fund. Yet to evade sighting for decades would be near-inconceivable. The FBI report appears to be the most likely occurrence. The case still officially remains open, meaning that one day the truth might come out. But for now, this mysterious disappearance is unsolved.