It's been almost 40 years since Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa headed out for dinner with two unknown men at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit.
And, after that July night in 1975, he was never heard from again.
Hoffa was declared dead in 1982. But the question of where to find his remains has taken on a life of its own. Is he part of the cement foundation of the Giants' stadium? Entombed beneath Detroit's Renaissance Center? Swimming with the fishes? Two recent FBI-led investigations included this summer's dig of a driveway in Roseville and a million-dollar hunting expedition of a farm in Milford in 2006. Neither produced any evidence.
Zerilli, 85, allegedly has ties to one of Detroit's oldest and most secretive Mafia families. In a CBS report, he is described as the son of legendary Detroit godfather Joe Zerilli. According to CBS, he was being groomed to take over the family organization before being demoted after his imprisonment in 1973 for shady bookkeeping in a Las Vegas hotel and casino.
“He actually had risen up at one point to the underboss – or second in command,” Andy Arena, former FBI head for New York and Detroit, told CBS.
Zerilli's story is a bit dicey. He claims he was never a member of the Mob, and had no part in Hoffa's disappearance -- he was incarcerated when the alleged murder took place. That hasn't stopped the Feds from believing his position in Detroit's underworld would have allowed him access to the real story. He also might be hoping to score a payday. NBC News reports that Zerilli is destitute, but is currently writing a book and hopes he can cash in if Hoffa's body is discovered.
"I’d like to just prove to everybody that I’m not crazy," Zerilli told NBC. "And it means a lot to me. What happened, happened while I was in jail. And I feel very, very bad about it and it should never have happened to Jim Hoffa. He didn’t deserve what happened to him."
So, what did happen to him?
For one, Zerilli claims, the meat grinder story is "baloney."
He said that Hoffa's final resting place isn't far from where he was last seen -- in a field located in northern Oakland County, Mich., about 20 miles north of the Machus Red Fox restaurant.
According to Zerilli, Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave, and that plans to move his remains to another location were abandoned after the fact.
Reporter Kevin Dietz of WDIV said the station will disclose where Zerilli said the body is buried during a newscast scheduled for Monday.
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