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Jimmy Hoffa’s Cement Shoes

To the truly diehard murder mystery fan, the concrete mixer is a symbol of gruesome murders and gang killings. Hiding a body in a cement structure has long been a favorite of murderers, both real and fictional. The term “cement shoes” began as a term for American mafia-style executions in which the victim is weighted down with concrete and then thrown into the water to drown. In recent times, the term has come to represent any kind of threat made by gangsters.

Probably the most famous real-life case that has been linked to the use of cement is the unsolved murder case of Jimmy Hoffa. From 1957 through 1967, Hoffa was the president of the Teamsters Union, which boasted strong connections to organized crime. Hoffa went to prison in 1967 after being convicted of misappropriating .7 million in union pension funds. Five years later, President Nixon commuted his sentence on the condition that Hoffa would stay out of union politics until 1980. Hoffa ignored this condition and started working to regain control of the Teamsters. However, by this time the mob leaders had turned against him. They preferred his successor, Frank Fitzsimmons, whom the mobsters found much easier to manipulate.

On the afternoon of July 30, 1975, Hoffa was seen getting into a car in the parking lot of the Red Fox Restaurant outside of Detroit. He was supposedly on his way to meet with three men involved in union politics. It was the last time anyone saw him alive. Although his body has never been found, it is generally assumed that he was murdered by the mob. He was declared legally dead in 1982, but the FBI maintains an open case on his disappearance and assumed murder.

In the years since Hoffa’s disappearance, a great mystery has developed around what happened to him. Many theories have been offered, but the predominant one is that Hoffa’s body was mixed into the concrete that was being used to build the New York Giant’s football stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Other theories have his body mixed in the concrete for the foundation of a public works garage in Cadillac, Michigan, or for various other buildings, freeway overpasses, or structures.

Understandably, none of these structures has ever been taken apart to see if it is hiding Hoffa’s body. However, adding to the mystique of the Hoffa mystery is the revelation in recent years that new technology could possibly be used to find his remains if it is indeed inside a concrete structure.

The technology uses ultrasound, the same technique that doctors use to monitor growing fetuses in the womb. In the case of concrete structures, the purpose of the ultrasound technology, which builds a pseudo-3D image of the interior of the structure, is to inspect the structures for signs of corrosion; but experts say the technology would probably also show a void that would be left by a decomposing body.


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