James Hoffa’s middle name is Riddle. How fitting for a man who has been missing and presumed dead for over 46 years. It is quite the riddle.
Jimmy, was born in 1913 in Brazil, IN. After his father died when he was 7 years old, his mother moved the family to Detroit. He would stay in Detroit the rest of his life. In 1936, Jimmy met Josephine Poszywak, 18, at a nonunionized laundry workers strike. They married six months later and would eventually have two children.
Jimmy started his union work when he was a teenager. He was considered courageous and approachable, and soon rose to a leadership position. After refusing to work for an abusive shift foreman, Jimmy left his position with the grocery chain, and soon became an organizer for the Local 299 Teamsters in Detroit.
A side note on the Teamsters – They were founded in 1903 and thirty years later had over 75,000 members. By 1951 their numbers exceeded 1 million members nationwide. The Teamsters organized truck drivers and warehousemen throughout the Midwest and then nationwide. Because trucking unions were heavily influenced and in many cases controlled by organized crime, Jimmy had to make accommodations and arrangements with many gangsters starting in Detroit.
Jimmy’s rise to power continued to grow. During WWII, he had successfully obtained a deferment from military service, stating that he was more valuable at keeping the freight running smoothly across the country to assist with the war effort.
In 1952, Jimmy became vice-president of the IBT. Jimmy began spending more time away from Detroit, as the headquarters for the IBT were in Washington DC, or he was traveling the country for his responsibilities.
1957, then Teamsters president Dave Beck, had been indicted for fraud. Jimmy Hoffa then became Teamsters president. That same year the AFL-CIO union voted to expel the Teamsters. The AFL-CIO had agreed to keep the affiliation with the Teamsters if Jimmy Hoffa was dismissed as president, they felt he had corrupt leadership. At that time the IBT was bringing in over $750,000 annually to the AFL-CIO.
During the 1960’s Jimmy was working to expand the union to virtually all over-the-road truckers, with great success. However he was also under a lot of personal strain; investigations, trials, appeals, or jailed for almost all of the 1960’s.
Jimmy was planning to regain leadership of the IBT, but had opposition from several members in the mafia. A national vice president in New Jersey, and caporegime of the Genovese crime family, Anthony Provenzano, was a friend to Hoffa but now turned enemy.
Jimmy Hoffa met with the Giacalone brothers who were believed to be mediators between Jimmy and Anthony. Jimmy’s son, James stated these meetings were a pretext to setting up Jimmy for a hit.
July 30, 1975, Jimmy had gone to a meeting with Anthony Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone. The meeting was at 2pm, in Detroit. A phone call to his wife between 2:15pm and 2:30pm stating he had been stood up. It’s believed that before 3pm, Jimmy Hoffa had been abducted off the street.
By 6pm the next day his family and reported him as missing. The Michigan State Police and FBI were alerted. The two men Jimmy was supposed to have met denied ever scheduling a meeting with him. One eyewitness claimed to see Jimmy in a maroon car with three other people. Another associate of Jimmy’s and the mafia’s was Joseph Giacalone, who owned a maroon 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham. This car was borrowed to Jimmy’s foster son to deliver fish that day, and police dogs identified Jimmy’s scent in the car.
After years of investigation, those investigators involved with the case were unable to reach a definitive conclusion on how Jimmy was killed, nor where his remains are located. Jimmy was declared legally dead in December of 1982. His wife had passed away in September, 1980, never knowing what happened to her husband.
In 1989 the agent in charge of the FBI Detroit office stated; “I’m comfortable I know who did it, but it’s never going to be prosecuted because we would have to divulge informants, confidential sources.”
It’s believed that Jimmy Hoffa was murdered on the orders of his mafia contacts, and then cremated. Key details remain unknown or unprovable, and this ensures that nobody will be charged in the case.
Stay Curious my Friends!