DETROIT – Investigators looking into the 1975 disappearance of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa ripped up floor boards Friday in a Detroit house where traces of blood were uncovered by the Fox News Channel.
According to an upcoming book, a now-dead Pennsylvania Teamster official named Frank Sheeran claimed to have shot Hoffa inside the home in 1975. Fox sent experts to the house in March.
On Friday, police and forensic investigators hauled away seven or eight foot-long pieces of wood floor and prepared it for FBI analysis, Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said.
Gorcyca said his team’s chemical tests were inconclusive, and he is “a little skeptical that we’ll find anything of evidentiary value.”
But he said: “If we can find sufficient DNA to analyze, and it matches Hoffa, then it would lend a tremendous amount of credibility to Sheeran’s story.”
He said the FBI analysis could take weeks. If there’s not enough DNA, or if it doesn’t match, “then we still have a big mystery on our hands,” Gorcyca said.
Those now living in the home are “just unknowing homeowners” and have no connection to the case, the prosecutor said.
The book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” published by a division of Random House, was to be released Tuesday but went on sale Friday. It was written by Charles Brandt, a former prosecutor in Delaware. Sheeran died last year in a nursing home.
The FBI said in March that it was investigating a second purported deathbed confession by Sheeran in which he said he flew to Pontiac in a small plane on the day Hoffa disappeared, picked up Hoffa’s body from the killers and drove it to a Hamtramck trash incinerator, where it was burned.
Sheeran’s daughter said she believed the handwritten confession was a forgery created by her father’s biographer, John Zeitts, to upstage Brandt’s book.
Hoffa disappeared from the parking lot of a restaurant in suburban Detroit while on his way to a meeting with Anthony Provenzano, a New Jersey Teamsters boss, and Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit mobster.
Investigators believe Provenzano and Giacalone had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency. Hoffa was legally declared dead in 1982.
Theories about where he is buried are varied and include reports he is entombed under Giants Stadium in New Jersey. In July, authorities dug up a backyard swimming pool in Michigan in an unsuccessful search for clues.
“The Hoffa family is declining to comment on anything concerning their father until the case is resolved by a law enforcement agency,” Teamsters spokesman Galen Munroe said. Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, has been president of the union since 1999.
In the latest twist, Gorcyca said two retired Michigan state police officers brought in by Fox News tested floor boards in the Detroit home with Luminol, a chemical that illuminates the presence of bloodstains.
The prosecutor in charge of the case did not learn of the investigation or possible new evidence until the TV crew came to interview him about a week ago, Gorcyca said.
“We’re disturbed that we weren’t the first at the scene and the first to conduct testing at the scene. Every time Luminol is used, DNA is lost,” Gorcyca said.
Associated Press from television
A forensic investigator checks the floor Friday of a Detroit house where traces of blood were discovered. A former Teamsters official said he shot Jimmy Hoffa inside the home in 1975.