Digging in Detroit but No Shovels in Chicago

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 2.27.05 PMForty years after Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, the Detroit Free Press revealed that the FBI is searching a field for his remains.

Now an ex-con named Tony Zerilli suggests Hoffa may have been buried there by the Detroit mob.

The parallels with Chicago’s case at Miami and Elston are striking of course, but there’s one major difference.

According to CNN, the FBI in Detroit “spent months looking into Zerilli’s claims before seeking court authorization to excavate the field and look for evidence of a shallow grave.”

Similarly, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart spent months examining testimony suggesting that John Wayne Gacy might have buried victims at 6114 W. Miami before seeking court authorization to investigate the property for evidence of graves.

But whereas the FBI working in Detroit opted to excavate the property in question, Dart instead opted to use “infrared cameras to look for the telltale heat signature of decomposing human remains.” Knowing that the the property was looked at briefly in 1998 in a very controversial and now discredited investigation, Dart nevertheless decided to make his inspection in secret, which doesn’t inspire confidence in the work. Nor does his having decided to close the case at Miami-Elston after using dogs to sniff core samples in below-freezing weather.

Renowned forensic pathologist Michael Baden told producer Tracy Ullman that “digging is the best way to determine if remains are present,” and Dart’s own infrared technician told reporter Matt Stroud that “no infrared scan is going to be conclusive without a shred of doubt. ‘No technology is 100 percent.'”

Hoffa’s body may never be found, but his family and the authorities in Detroit seem to care enough to keep looking when they get a good tip. What do the Chicago Police, the Cook County sheriff, and the FBI need to get to the point where they’ll agree this property is worth a thorough investigation?

Maybe they need names. Oh wait: they have some.

Coming up: names of missing persons who may have been Gacy victims.

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