scorecardresearch

Few missing persons’ cases have garnered as much intrigue and attention as the case of Jimmy Hoffa. Although he disappeared over 40 years ago, investigators both professional and amateur alike remain fascinated with exactly where Hoffa went, and how exactly he vanished without a trace. We may never know what actually happened to Hoffa, but there are a lot of theories and even some recent stories that help us shine a faint light on what might have happened to the union kingpin Hoffa. Here are 42 facts about the missing man himself, Jimmy Hoffa.


1. Origin Story

Jimmy Hoffa was born James Riddle Hoffa on Valentine’s Day 1913 to parents John and Viola Hoffa. The Hoffa family moved from Indiana to Detroit, Michigan when Jimmy was just a young boy.

2. Union Man

Jimmy Hoffa made a name for himself as the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) for 14 years. He was actually a union activist for most of his life.

3. Rallying the Troops

In order to support his family, Jimmy Hoffa dropped out of school and started working at the age of 14. It was when he found work at a local grocery store that he became interested in workers’ unions. His managers at the grocery store were abusive, underpaid their workers, and wouldn’t ensure any form of job security for Hoffa or his colleagues.

Young Hoffa had a big problem with that and rallied the employees to unionize. His courage got him a leadership role, but sadly, his hard work didn’t change the harsh conditions.

4. Accepted

In 1933, Jimmy Hoffa was accepted by the Teamsters Local 299 union as an organizer shortly after leaving the grocery store.

5. Avoiding Conviction

Jimmy Hoffa had many gang ties, and there were many attempts to get him out of the picture as IBT leader as a result, but none were successful. When John F. Kennedy got elected, however, things changed. Kennedy’s brother Robert, who was Attorney General at the time, set up a “Get Hoffa” squad to take the man down, which consisted of investigators and prosecutors.

It was ultimately a success.

6. Crime Don’t Pay

In 1964, Jimmy Hoffa was convicted of attempted bribery, fraud, and jury tampering.

7. Thanks, Nixon

After being found guilty of his crimes, Hoffa was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was imprisoned in 1967, but released after only four years. Hoffa had arranged a pardon agreement with then-president Richard Nixon. One of the conditions was that he resign as union president.

8. A Change in Support

After Hoffa’s release in 1971, the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters) endorsed Nixon’s re-election. This was a big change for the IBT, as they had previously only supported Democratic nominees. This was doubtlessly controversial, but soon after, even more controversial rumors began to spread like wildfire.

It was alleged that Nixon was paid $1 million or more to release Hoffa and get the support of the IBT.

9. Regain Control

Jimmy Hoffa was forced to resign from his IBT presidency as part of his deal to get out of prison, but he wasn’t going to let it go that easy. Hoffa planned to get back to the top of the union no matter what it took. This was a move that some organized crime figures weren’t exactly fans of, and they threatened him when he brought his plan to light.

This disagreement almost certainly ended up becoming a factor in his disappearance.

10. Betrayed

In 1964, Hoffa’s first arrest and trial was for attempting to bribe a grand jury member, which gave him eight years. He was ratted on by close associate and teamster Edward Grady Partin, who let the FBI in on Hoffa’s wrongdoings.

11. Inspired by Tragedy

Hoffa’s father died of lung disease. He had worked as a coal driller, and at the time, people working in coal mines were among the most abused in the workplace. Safety was often shirked in favor of speed. It’s no wonder Hoffa wanted change for workers.

12. Lump Sum

Jimmy Hoffa was paid a $1.7-million lump sum pension upon his release from prison. This was the first time a union had done this. That’s a lot of cheddar!

13. Questionable Guy, Great Leader

During his time with the IBT, Hoffa helped the union grow exponentially, from 75,000 members at his start to 170,000 after only a few years of leadership. By 1951 the union reached 1,000,000 members, solidifying Hoffa as a key member. He was known extremely well throughout the trucking industry.

14. Taking the Throne

Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, became the president of the IBT in 1999, defeating Ron Carey, who wasn’t exactly a big fan of Jimmy Hoffa. He probably wasn’t too impressed to see another Hoffa take the throne.

15. Hoffa on the TV

Hoffa has been portrayed in a number of film and TV adaptations, including the film Hoffa, the series Blood Feud, and comedy Bruce Almighty. The newest and most popular adaptation to feature Hoffa will be The Irishman, with Al Pacino playing the part of the union leader.

16. Come Together

One of Hoffa’s greatest moves as union president was bringing most North American truck drivers together under the national master freight agreement.

17. Toes in the Water

Hoffa first got involved with organized crime because of a turf war between IBT and the Congress of Industrialized Organizations. He enlisted some mafia members to help him scare away the competition, and from then, on he was in it for the long haul.

Jimmy Hoffa FactsHoffa (1992), 20th Century Fox

18. That’s a Steal

Hoffa and his wife paid only $6,800 for their house in Northwest Detroit. I’m sure that was a lot more back then, but come on!

19. Pensions for All

One of Hoffa’s most well-known crimes involved illegally loaning out large pension funds to mafia leaders, as opposed to the people who actually deserved them. For this, he was given five additional years on top of the eight he was already facing for bribing a jury member.

20. Similar Interests

Hoffa was married to laundry worker Josephine Posyzywak for much of his life. He met her at a non-unionized strike for laundry workers. They had two children together and were happily married until Hoffa’s disappearance.

21. Smart Girl

Hoffa’s daughter Barbara is very involved in legal work. She was the Associate Circuit Judge in the Missouri Circuit Court from 1992-2008, and an Assistant Missouri Attorney General of Civil, Disability and Workers’ Rights Division up until 2011. Those are some lengthy titles, so they must be pretty important.

22. Deadly Unions

While he may have been a union man, he was associated with much less noble activities on the side. From early on in his time with the IBT, he became involved in organized crime—in particular, with the Genovese crime family.

Vito Genovese

23. Famous Ghost

Despite all his contributions to the union, Hoffa is most well known for his disappearance. On July 30, 1975, Hoffa disappeared and was never seen again. He was in the Machus Red Fox Restaurant parking lot, where he was meeting with some well-known mafia leaders who had ties to the IBT.

24. Late Release

Shortly after his disappearance, Hoffa’s autobiography Hoffa: The Real Story was published.

25. Seen but Not Found

A truck driver claimed to have seen Hoffa right before his disappearance. Allegedly, Hoffa was sitting in the backseat of a car with someone else, a long object (presumably a weapon) covered in between the two. Despite this information, Hoffa was never found.

26. One Last Call

When Hoffa got to the restaurant where he disappeared, Tony Giacalone, the mafia member who he was supposed to meet with, was nowhere to be seen. Hoffa called his wife from a payphone complaining about being stood up. He then called another mafia member to complain about Giacalone being late. After that, nobody heard from him again.

27. Psychic Visions

Hoffa’s daughter Barbara claimed she had a vision of her dad the night he went missing. In the vision, she saw him wearing a dark polo shirt, slumped over. This led her to believe that he was already dead.

28. The Old Ball Game

There are a few theories about what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. One of the most popular theories was that he was dismembered and buried in the cement at the old Giants Stadium in New Jersey. The FBI was not convinced of this theory, however, and didn’t even check the site (section 107 specifically) when the stadium was demolished.

29. Sky Diving

One of Hoffa’s associates in crime, Joseph Franco, claimed that Hoffa was pushed live out of an airplane over the Great Lakes. Franco was known to police as an extortionist, leg breaker, and hired killer, so he was probably pretty capable of the crime.

30. The Irishman

Mobster Frank Sheeran, a friend of Hoffa’s known as “The Irishman,” has claimed that he killed Hoffa. He said that Hoffa was shot and his remains were cremated in Detroit. This story makes the basis for Martin Scorsese’s 2019 film The Irishman, with Robert De Niro portraying Frank Sheeran.

31. A Concrete Theory

Marvin Elkind, who used to be a part of the mafia, claims that Hoffa was killed and buried in wet concrete at Detroit’s Renaissance Center. He said, “practically every union carpenter in and around the city was called in to rush the construction of wooden forms needed for pouring concrete at the Renaissance project.” Spooky, but not quite concrete enough to get people to look into it.

32. Presumed Dead

Investigations into Hoffa’s disappearance went on for years, but in 1982 he was legally declared “presumed dead.” Many still wonder where exactly Hoffa’s remains ended up.

33. Grief Kills

For Hoffa’s family, his disappearance was just the start of their nightmare. Hoffa’s wife Josephine died shortly after he went missing. Her kids claimed that she died of fear and grief due to her husband’s disappearance. It doesn’t get much more tragic than that.

34. Can’t Say

FBI agent Kenneth Walton claims to know what happened to Hoffa and who was involved, but he can’t say. He said, “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.” What a tease.

35. DNA Means Nothing

The FBI found a DNA match to Jimmy Hoffa’s hair in known organized crime figure Charles O’Brien’s car—the same car that a witness claimed to have seen Hoffa leaving the restaurant in. O’Brien had long denied being involved in the disappearance. Although the DNA was a match, it does not reveal when the hair was left in the car.

Hoffa and O’Brien were known associates, so it doesn’t necessarily prove anything.

36. Myth Busted

The Mythbusters once looked into the disappearance of Hoffa, going as far as scanning the area of Giants Stadium where Hoffa was meant to have been buried. They found no signs of a body, effectively busting the myth.

37. Wrong Blood

Blood was found and tested in the house of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who was long suspected of killing Hoffa. The blood, however, was not a DNA match. Just some other person’s blood, no big deal.

38. Eaten by Gators

One theory says that Hoffa was ground up at an ironworks, put into a drum, and shipped to the Everglades. Once there, his remains were thrown to the alligators, which he was partially digested by. There’s not much evidence to support this, but it’s one of the more interesting theories out there.

39. Adding Insult to Injury

Perhaps the most insulting death theory is the one that says Hoffa was stabbed in the head, put in a drum, set on fire, buried, dug up, and then crushed into a cube with a car. The car was then shipped to Japan and recycled for scrap metal in new cars. Hoffa would not have liked that.

40. The Investigation Continues

Although he was declared dead in the 80s, people have not let up trying to find Hoffa. In 2012, the police tested ground samples from under a driveway in Detroit where someone claimed they saw a body being buried around the time of Hoffa’s disappearance. No evidence of human remains was found…unfortunately? Fortunately? We’ll go with fortunately.

41. A Shallow Grave

In 2013, gangster Tony Zerilli said Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave in a field in Michigan near the restaurant he was taken from. The FBI looked into it, but after three days of digging found no remains.

Jimmy Hoffa FactsGetty Images

42. Swimming With the Fishes

The most recent person to claim they know the whereabouts of Hoffa is Michael Franzese, an ex-mafia member turned motivational speaker. He will not divulge the exact location of the body or who killed Hoffa, but says, “I can tell you the body is very wet,” and that the assassin is alive to this day, albeit in prison.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
When Edward VIII’s baby brother Prince John died of severe seizure at only 13 years old, Edward’s response was so disturbing it’s impossible to forget.
43 Scandalous Facts About Edward VIII, The King Who Lost His Crown 43 Scandalous Facts About Edward VIII, The King Who Lost His Crown “I wanted to be an up-to-date king. But I didn't have much time.”—King Edward VIII. For such a short-reigning king, Edward VIII left behind no shortage of controversy. First, there was the scandalous womanizing of…
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
The average person doesn't even get 50% correct. I guess it's hard to be smarter than an 8th grader...
Quiz: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth-Grader? Quiz: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth-Grader?
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
I had an imaginary friend named Charlie. My parents asked what he looked like, and I always replied “a little man.” When we moved away, Charlie didn't come with us. My mom asked where he was, and I told her that he was going to be a mannequin at Sears—but that wasn’t even the most disturbing part. The years passed by and I’d forgotten my imaginary friend, but when someone told me a story about my old house, I was chilled to the bone.
People Describe Creepy Imaginary Friends from Their Childhood People Describe Creepy Imaginary Friends from Their Childhood “I was a loner as a child. I had an imaginary friend—I didn't bother with him.”—George Carlin. Many adults had imaginary friends as children. At their best, these make-believe buddies were cute, helpful, and whimsical…
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
The average person only gets 10 right. You muggles don't stand a chance...
Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Harry Potter? Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Harry Potter?


Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team