OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The latest possible resting place of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa is an overgrown farm field where the normal calm of chirping crickets is being drowned out by a beeping backhoe, the chop of an overhead news helicopter and the bustle of reporters and onlookers.
Over nearly four decades, authorities have pursued multiple leads into Hoffa's death that yielded nothing. Yet the mystery endures, fueled by a public fascination with mobsters and murder.
"It's one of those things you've always heard about," said Niki Grifka, who, at 37, was just an infant when Hoffa vanished.
Over the past day and a half, Grifka and a few dozen other Oakland Township residents gathered a couple of hundred yards from where FBI agents wearing hard hats and carrying shovels sifted through about a half-acre of red dirt for the remains of a man who became as large in death as he was leading one of America's most powerful labor unions.
Hoffa's rise in the Teamsters, his 1964 conviction for jury tampering and his presumed murder are Detroit's link to a time when organized crime, public corruption and mob hits held the nation's attention.
Hoffa was last seen July 30, 1975, outside an Oakland County restaurant where he was supposed to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain. His body has never been found.
But over the years, authorities have received various tips, leading the FBI to possible burial sites near and far.
In 2003, a backyard swimming pool was dug up 90 miles northwest of Detroit. Seven years ago, a tip from an ailing federal inmate led to a two-week search and excavation at a horse farm in the same region. Last year, soil samples were taken from under a concrete slab garage floor north of the city. And detectives even pulled up floorboards from a Detroit house.
No evidence of Hoffa was found.
Other theories have suggested he was entombed in concrete at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, ground up and thrown in a Florida swamp or obliterated in a mob-owned fat-rendering plant.
Detroit's long tradition of organized labor and auto manufacturing means the Hoffa saga still resonates with countless Michigan families.