Killing Jimmy Hoffa

Detroit Stories

41 years ago on July 30, Jimmy Hoffa went to a 2pm meeting with two known La Cosa Nostra members (Tony Giacalone and Tony Provenzano) and one former Purple Gang associate (Leonard Schultz) at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. These men never arrived. At 2:45pm or thereabouts he was seen getting into a car in the restaurant’s parking lot with three barely identified men and drove off never to be seen again.

The Machus Red Fox was located two miles two miles from my parents’ house. Chucky O’Brien, one of the men who were suspected of being in the car that fateful July day, was also a neighbor it was one of the defining moments of the later half of the 20th Century for the US.

But for those of us who grew up in that corner of the world, the frantic ‘Where is Hoffa buried’ months that followed remain indelibly burned into our memories. The Bloomfield Township cops even surveyed a lump of earth in our backyard. (It was a construction lump.  The house had been built and finished 3 years before so they were just being thorough.) People were running all around the city and Metro area of Detroit with shovels. It was our version of a treasure hunt with the body of a notorious labor leader as the prize.

Years later as whack job theory after whack job theory surfaced as to where James Riddle Hoffa’s remains were buried, I started to question the Old Man about where the location of Hoffa’s final resting place.

“Look in the Detroit River,” he’d tell me.

Finally after pestering him for year after year, in 1986ish he starting throwing out this stock answer: they (whomever they were) took him to a house two miles down the road. They killed him. Then they took him someplace in Detroit, got rid of the body and whatever was left they threw in the Detroit River.

A while back, Scott Burnstein and Al Profit’s new documentary Killing Jimmy Hoffa dropped on Amazon Prime. It’s a well-done piece that sent me into a weird sort of déjà vu looking at the pictures of the men involved and the time and place. Mentions of places my brothers and I knew well as we were taken there by the Old Man are all over the film: the Southfield Athletic Club, Hazel Park Raceway, Long Lake Road and of course the Machus Red Fox.

However, the most interesting part of the Killing Jimmy Hoffa begins at the 1:05:31 mark. This part of the documentary is entitled “The Real Story: Giacalone and Licata.” During this section, Burnstein and Profit interview various retired FBI Agents and Federal Prosecutors. These men state that Jimmy Hoffa was taken to a house two miles north of the Machus Red Fox. He was killed and the body taken downtown to Central Sanitation in Hamtramck (a small city within the city limits of Detroit) where it was incinerated. If I remember the times correctly, the refuse from those sanitation plants were dumped into the Detroit River.

Check out Killing Jimmy Hoffa for a remarkable overview of the disappearance and death of James Riddle Hoffa. It really takes you back to the times and the crime. The film also makes me wish I paid more attention to various quiet conversations I wasn’t supposed to hear at the Joint and the track.

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