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Detroit home searched for Hoffa's DNA

From Keith Oppenheim

Detroit (Michigan)
Organized Crime
Jimmy Hoffa

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The pending release of a biography of Teamsters official Frank Sheeran, who claims he's responsible for shooting Jimmy Hoffa, has led officials to a new location in the search for clues to the long-missing Teamsters boss.

Authorities in Oakland County, Michigan, confirmed Friday that they removed the floorboards from a Detroit home to look for traces of blood that may be linked to Hoffa's 1975 disappearance.

County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said police do not know if the floorboards contain any traces of human blood, but the materials are being sent to the FBI crime lab for DNA testing.

The FBI has a sample of Hoffa's DNA, he said, but it may take weeks to determine if there is a match.

Gorcyca said there were no visible bloodstains on the floorboards. He said he is skeptical that this will be a significant break in the case.

The latest developments were prompted by a biography to be released June 1.

In the book titled "I Hear You Paint Houses," author Charles Brandt tells the story of Frank Sheeran, who claims to be responsible for shooting Hoffa in July of 1975.

According to the book's publisher, "I hear you paint houses" were the first words Hoffa ever spoke to Sheeran. The phrase is a euphemism for murder because it implies the blood will splatter on the walls.

Brandt gives details of Sheeran's confession, including the location of the alleged murder, which according to the book took place inside the northwest Detroit home that was searched Friday morning.

Sheeran died last December at the age of 83.

Gorcyca said the Fox News Channel hired two retired police officers in March to examine the home. Those officers claimed to find "seven to eight traces of blood" on floorboards, he said.

The claim led the Oakland County prosecutor's office to bring in its own experts to determine if there is anything that may be connected to the Hoffa case.

Information in the book has been considered potentially significant because Sheeran was considered to be a confidant of Hoffa's, Gorcyca said.

Hoffa was last seen July 30, 1975, at Machus Red Fox restaurant in suburban Detroit. He was there ostensibly to meet with reputed Detroit Mafia street enforcer Anthony Giacalone, who died in 2002 and Anthony Provenzano, chief of a Teamsters local in New Jersey who died several years ago after being convicted in another murder case.

Hoffa believed Giacalone had set up the meeting to help settle a feud between Hoffa and Provenzano.

Neither man showed up for the meeting, and both said a meeting had not been scheduled. The FBI said at the time that the disappearance could have been linked to Hoffa's efforts to regain power in the Teamsters and its effect on the mob's control of the union's pension funds.

The last significant development in the case came in September 2001 when the FBI found DNA evidence linking Hoffa to a car that police had suspected -- but couldn't prove -- was used in his disappearance.

Hoffa was 62 at the time of his disappearance and had been released early from prison by President Richard Nixon on condition that he not seek high union office. He had served time for mail fraud at the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, penitentiary, where Provenzano also had been an inmate.

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