What do we really know about the infamous Jimmy Hoffa? When it comes to his extensive history in creating the modern-day Union, we may know a lot. However, when it comes to his disappearance, what do we really know? Was it an inside job? A suicide? Maybe the decades-old fable of the Mafia taking him out is the truth. All we have to go off of are facts and maybe a few bended truths.
James (Jimmy) Hoffa spent the majority of his life living in the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan. At just 14 years old, he left school to help support his family by working full-time manual labor jobs. He married his wife, Josephine, at 23 and went on to have two children together.
With his job at a grocery chain that provided poor working conditions with bogus wages and little job security, the worker began their union. Even though he was one of the youngest people there, Hoffa’s charisma and charm paid off for him to pass as reliable and trustworthy – eventually becoming a leader in the new Union. He resigned from his job at the grocery chain and was asked to become a crucial leader and organizer with Local 299 of the Teamsters in his local area.
The Teamsters were ultimately a group of other union workers and Hoffa dedicated years to creating this group to be large and powerful. He worked to consolidate local union trucker groups and warehousemen into the overall, national body of the union. Hoffa is credited for bringing the membership from 75,000 in 1933 to over one million by 1951. Because of the power of numbers along with Hoffa’s demeanor, he was able to leverage companies and win over critical and well-paying contracts that these workers sought out for. Their presence in the workforce made them one of the most powerful unions in North America.
However, creating allies with large trucking and warehouse associations put Hoffa in a compromising position. Organized crime rings typically handled those variations of work where the leaders were mobsters and gangsters that didn’t like outside folk crowding on their turf. Especially if those people were offering them better incomes and work environments. With Hoffa in their sphere taking and expanding their men, he had to embark on many trades and late-night discussions with the head honchos – especially those in the Detroit area. Hoffa went on to extend the Teamsters’ influence from the Midwest to every corner in the United States and Canada. However, as his union grew, so did rage from outside groups.
Things started to get rough for Hoffa starting in 1957 when he faced his first arrest for allegedly trying to bribe an aide to the Select Committee where he denied the charges and was later acquitted. However, that arrest was just the snowflake that set off the avalanche. In 1963, Hoffa was charged with jury tampering and attempted bribery of a grand juror during his 1962 trial in Nashville. He went on to serve 8 years in prison. While on bail, Hoffa was sentenced an additional 5 years for conspiracy as well as mail and wire fraud from the Teamsters’ fund.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon commuted Hoffa’s less than five-year sentence as “time served” and was released. By 1973, Hoffa had plans to rejoin his fellow Teamsters’ and reclaim his presidency. He was not favored by his union anymore and sought-after support from locals in Detroit again. He might have known what cards he was dealing, but he had no idea what kind of hand they all had up their sleeves.
Hoffa’s plans came to halt when Anthony Provenzano, the local Teamsters leader in New Jersey, caught wind of his potential reelection. The two had been long-time friends but had a feud as they were in prison that never mended. Many opponents of Provenzano have turned up dead or beaten horrendously. The Mafia kingpin of Detroit, Anthony Giacalone and his brother Vito, involved themselves to help stop Hoffa’s attempt at regaining national power. The Giacalone brothers provided services to be “mediators” between Hoffa and Provenzano, but with each meeting, Hoffa became increasingly nervous to the point his son, James, knew that there was potential danger ahead.
On July 30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa was never seen again. He was to meet the brothers and Provenzano at 2 P.M. at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township – right outside of Detroit. However, after 30 minutes had passed, Hoffa is seen calling his wife from a payphone to alert her that no one has shown to the restaurant. As he paced outside for a couple minutes more, he left the Red Fox around 2:45 P.M. Yet, he did not leave in his own car.
The next morning, Hoffa’s wife had called her children to inform them he had not come home from the Red Fox. Strangely enough, his daughter had claimed to have seen him in a vision where he was wearing the exact outfit, he had worn to meet with the men but was slumped over dead. A friend of Hoffa’s arrived at the Red Fox parking lot around 7:20 A.M. where he found his friend’s unlocked car, but no trace of Jimmy Hoffa. That is when he called the police and once, they realized who this was about, the FBI was soon alerted. There was no evidence that the Giacalone brothers or Provenzano had been anywhere near that restaurant when Hoffa disappeared. The only evidence that the police have against the men is a vehicle that belongs to the Giacalone family, where tracking dogs picked up Hoffa’s scent. However, it can be disputed that Hoffa has traveled in that car before.
On July 30, 1982, Jimmy Hoffa was declared legally dead. Key details in Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance still remain unknown and highly speculated. With no real evidence pointing against them, it is common acceptance that the enemies in the Detroit Mafia had it out for Hoffa and needed him gone. There are theories of his foster son, Charles O’Brien, aiding these men to take out the man he had an unstable relationship with. No matter what you believe, you more than likely believe that Hoffa died from a grueling and painful death, no matter who the perpetrator may or may not be. People in Detroit still dig to see if they will ever stumble across the remains of Hoffa while others in Northern Michigan know that he very well might be in an icy swamp, decomposed from years of withering.