August 2, 2014
Detroit, Michigan (CNN) — The knock came for Pat Szpunar one afternoon in September 2012. At her door on a quiet corner in Roseville, a northeast suburb of Detroit, stood two local police detectives.
After some chitchat, she was hit with this doozy: They suspected a body was buried in her backyard.
Szpunar, a 74-year-old widow who has lived in the house since 1988, couldn’t help but laugh.
”What?” she asked. ”You think Jimmy Hoffa’s buried back there?”
The detectives looked stunned but wouldn’t say who they were looking for. She was only joking, but then a local reporter who’d caught wind of the investigation showed up. He wanted to talk about the former Teamsters boss who, he heard, was underneath her property.
Soon, Szpunar says, all hell broke loose, turning her place ”not into a three-ring circus” but ”a five-ring circus.”
And thus Szpunar became part of an exclusive club that none of its members asked to join: those innocent Michigan residents whose lives have been upended in the search for Hoffa’s body.
Some of their homes are referred to as Hoffa houses. In grocery stores they might hear questions like, ”Aren’t you the Hoffa lady?” From time to time, strangers lurk outside their properties and pull out cameras.
Photos: The mystery of Jimmy Hoffa Photos: The mystery of Jimmy Hoffa
Nearly four decades after Hoffa vanished and was presumably killed, the search for his body and clues to his disappearance lives on. As recently as last summer, agents descended on an Oakland Township field in suburban Detroit and tore it up, looking for his remains.
”People say it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, but we’ve got a responsibility if a (credible) tip comes in to investigate and see if it pans out,” says Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe. ”You have an obligation. It’s an unsolved homicide, and the bottom line is that’s what we’re paid to do.”
The tip that time around came from the 85-year-old son of a former mob boss, the Detroit Free Press reported. Hoffa had been hit with a shovel, buried alive and could be found beneath a slab of concrete, the paper said. But like all the previous digs, the much-hyped hunt came up empty.
Theories abound as to what happened to Hoffa. He was entombed under Giants Stadium. He was chopped up and tossed in a Florida swamp. He was run through an industrial shredder or incinerator. His disappearance has been the subject of countless books, movies and speculation — and an investigation that has spanned four decades, spawne