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Hoffa: New Look at Old Evidence Yielding Clues - 2001-09-07

U.S. government investigators say they have found evidence that could help them find out what happened to former labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. He disappeared in suburban Detroit in 1975 and is presumed dead.

On July 30, 1975, the former president of the Teamsters Union, Jimmy Hoffa, told his wife he was going to a meeting at a restaurant near Detroit. He has not been seen since. At one time in the late 1970s, more than 200 federal agents were working on his case. Rumors of what happened to him ranged from being ground up and dumped into a Florida swamp to being secretly buried at the construction site of a National Football League stadium in New Jersey.

Friday's Detroit News newspaper reports the Federal Bureau of Investigation has matched DNA taken from Mr. Hoffa's hairbrush with a strand of hair found in a borrowed car that Mr. Hoffa's friend Charles O'Brien had been using the day of the disappearance.

Mr. O'Brien has denied any involvement in Mr. Hoffa's disappearance, and has said the former Teamsters' president was never in that particular car. Investigators believe Mr. Hoffa was picked up outside the restaurant and killed, possibly on the orders of organized crime leaders.

Mr. Hoffa led the Teamsters from 1957 to 1971. In 1975 he was preparing to make another bid for the union leadership. Investigators believe his disappearance was linked to a struggle within the union over its ties to organized crime.

Federal officials say the new DNA sample is just one of many pieces of evidence needed before any criminal charges are sought. Officials say they hope to decide whether to bring charges in the case by the end of 2003.

The Teamsters Union has released a statement saying it is heartened by news of a possible breakthrough in the case. Mr. Hoffa's daughter, a judge in St. Louis, says she still doubts anyone will ever be prosecuted for her father's disappearance.