Jimmy Hoffa Murder Mystery: Mobster Tony Zerilli Reveals Mafia Boss Is Buried In Michigan

By Staff Reporter on January 14, 2013 12:36 PM EST

Jimmy Hoffa
Jimmy Hoffa went missing in July 1975 and was declared dead in 1982. His body remained missing for nearly 40 years. (Photo: Reuters / Jerry Siskind)

It was a warm night in July 1975 when Teamsters kingpin Jimmy Hoffa was last seen having dinner with two other men at Machus Red Fox restaurant in the Detroit suburb, Bloomfield Hills. That was 40 years ago.

By 1982, authorities declared Hoffa dead despite never finding his body. A missing person case turned murder investigation turned urban legend, some say that Hoffa was buried into the foundation of the Giants' stadium. Others say he lies beneath Detroit's Renaissance Center. Other's say that he was dumped in a river and is swimming with the fishes. Most recently, the FBI followed a lead that led them to dig up a driveway in Roseville. At this point, many have accepted that the fate of Jimmy Hoffa will forever remain a mystery. Or will it?

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In a rare interview aired on Detroit's WDIV Sunday night, 85-year-old retired mobster Tony Zerilli sat with reporter Marc Santia and finally spilled the beans, claiming knowledge of where Hoffa was buried. The son of legendary Detroit godfather Joe Zerilli, Tony Zerilli's criminal career followed a path that would eventually elevate him to take over the operations of Detroit's oldest and most secretive Mafia families. In 1973, Zerilli was demoted after he was impresoned for shady bookkeeping on a Las Vegas hotel and casino.

Despite Zerilli's credentials, authorities familiar with Hoffa's case say Zerilli's story is dicey. Tony Zerilla claimed that he was never a member of the Mob and was sure to mention that he did not play a part in Hoffa's disappearance or his death. Nontheless, Andy Arena, the former FBI head of New York and Detroit, claims, "He actually had risen up at one point to the underboss - or second in command."

Authorities including Arena believe that Zerilli's position in Detroit's underworld would have allowed him access to the real story. Ultimately, claiming to possess real and substantial information of the story is one thing but how and why will Zerilli reveal the truth about Hoffa's fate?

According to NBC news, Zerilli may be drumming up some media buzz ahead of a book that he is currently working on. Zerilli said this about the message behind his book: "I'd like to just prove to everybody that I'm not crazy. 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."

According to Zerilli, Hoffa's body is no farther than 20-miles from the Machus Red Fox restaurant, the last confirmed location that Hoffa was seen four decades ago. Zerilli says Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave with the intent to move his remains to another location at a later date. However, "Once he was buried here he was buried and they let it go."

Zerilli denies any involvement with the death of Hoffa. Should authorities eventually uncover Hoffa's remains, the investigation for the person responsible for his death will likely open another can of worms.

Be sure to watch Tony Zerilli's interview with WDIV here.

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