It's a time-honored tradition: Every few years, the FBI gets a solid tip about where former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa was buried after he disappeared in July 1975. Hoffa, who was declared dead in 1982, is presumed to have been killed by the mob. Now, after a tip from the son of a former Detroit mob boss, the FBI is back on the hunt in a field in suburban Detroit.
But how much does a massive dig like this cost the federal government in a case that's nearly 38 years old? If a 2006 dig is any guide, a whole lot.
In 2006, the FBI spent two weeks digging up a farm 30 miles outside of Detroit looking for Hoffa's body. It found nothing. In 2007, The Detroit News revealed that during that search, the FBI paid $160,000 to the owners of the farm and $65,000 to excavators and other contractors working on the dig. That's a total of $225,00, not counting the hours put in by federal agents.
And it's not like 2006 was the only recent hunt. Just last September, investigators struck out while looking for Hoffa's remains under a storage shed in suburban Detroit. In 2004, a Detroit home had its floorboards ripped up in a fruitless search for Hoffa's DNA. In 2003, Hoffa was searched for, but not found, under a swimming pool.
Former U.S. Attorney Keith Corbett, who went to several Hoffa search sites when he was chief of the Eastern District of Michigan's Organized Crime Strike Force, justified the costly, never-ending searches to The Detroit News:
You still have the Hoffa family. There is a son and a daughter who would like to know where their father is. You can't do a cost benefit analysis on a murder investigation.
And maybe this search in a field will be more successful than all the searches that have come before it in the last 38 years. Maybe today we'll find Jimmy Hoffa's body. Who knows what we'll do with it.
Update (June 19): Nope.