FBI still digging around for Hoffa Sr.

Federal agents dug up part of a horse farm where organized crime figures used to meet in the latest search for "the human remains of James Riddle Hoffa," a search warrant obtained Thursday says. FBI agents had refused to confirm that the target of their two-day search at Hidden Dreams Farm outside Detroit was the remains of the former Teamsters leader, who disappeared in 1975.

For years, there has been a rumor in the surrounding neighborhood that Hoffa had been killed and buried there at the order of mobsters and others who didn't want Hoffa to regain power over the union. Deb Koskovich said she heard the rumor about Hoffa's body two decades ago from a neighbor when she moved next door.

"We laughed and that was the end of that," said Koskovich, 52. "I never thought about it again until today so apparently there have been rumors."

FBI agents investigating Hoffa's disappearance spent a second day at the farm, about 20 miles from the Oakland County restaurant where the Teamsters leader was to have dinner the night he vanished.

Asked if they were looking for Hoffa's remains, FBI Agent Dawn Clenney said, "Could be," and declined to comment further on the agents' presence.

A law enforcement official in Washington said the search was based on information developed several years ago and verified more recently.

The information indicated there was a high level of suspicious activity on the farm the day Hoffa vanished, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. A backhoe appeared near a barn that organized crime members had used for meetings, but that location was never used again after Hoffa disappeared, the official said.

Clenney said the bureau has received numerous leads about Hoffa.

"This is one we felt we needed to follow up on," she said.

At the time he vanished, Hoffa was to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain. Investigators have longed suspected the two had him killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency after he served time in federal prison for jury tampering.

The FBI would not say who owned the property when Hoffa disappeared.

Reporters were not allowed onto the property, a horse farm surrounded by a white wooden fence just off a dirt road, but images shot from news helicopters showed about a dozen people, some with shovels, standing by an area of newly turned dirt about 10 feet by 15 feet. Neighbors looked on from their yards but said they hadn't been told anything.

Mark Weidel, who was visiting his parents' home just up the road, said he grew up hearing rumors about Hoffa and didn't expect anything to come of this search.

"It's just another Hoffa story," he said.

Last year, the FBI crime lab concluded that blood found on the floor of a Detroit home where a one-time Hoffa ally claimed to have killed him did not belong to Hoffa.

Bloomfield Township police ripped up the floorboards from the house where Frank Sheeran claimed Hoffa was killed. Sheeran died in 2003 at age 83, and his claim was detailed in a book published months later.

A New Jersey mob hit man who died in March reportedly made a similar deathbed claim. Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski gave author Philip Carlo what he claimed were graphic details of the infamous, unsolved killing of the union boss, The Record of Bergen County, N.J., reported. "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer" is scheduled for release in July.

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said Bloomfield Township police were offering assistance but he knew little about the search. He said he was surprised the FBI acted without speaking to them.

"Three years ago they said, `The Hoffa case in essence is yours to deal with,'" he said. "I'd have expected the professional courtesy of calling me."


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