The Hunt for Jimmy Hoffa

This is the true story of the search for Jimmy Hoffa's remains using Ground Penetrating Radar twenty years before it was repeated by the popular TV Series Mythbusters. Jimmy wasn't there that day!

Jimmy Hoffa vanished from view on July 30, 1975 from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township a suburb of Detroit, Michigan never to be seen again. Several years later there was an article in Playboy saying that he was under the end zone at Giants Stadium in East Roth preferred, New Jersey. It was almost 20 years later that the television program “Mythbusters” used Ground Penetrating Radar to search the stadium for his remains. They were about 20 years too late because we had already used GPR to look for his remains two days after the article appeared in Playboy.

At the time GPR was quite primitive and although it had been used successfully in the Vietnam War to detect enemy tunnels they had not yet developed an electronic monitor for viewing the results. This was done with a 100 channel electronic strip chart that recorded the underground readings in a bunch of parallel squiggly lines on the paper that required interpretation by a trained operator. This was the kind of rig that appeared at Giants Stadium two days after the article had been published in Playboy at the behest of the FBI.

The main part of the GPR rig was the recorder that stayed in a van that was driven onto the playing field at Giants Stadium. We had several different antennas that transmitted in various wavelengths capable of penetrating into the ground at least 12 feet. The largest antenna that transmitted a long wave signal, and looked a great deal like a lawn mower with an extension cord. The antennas that had shorter wavelengths looks like a wooden box that was dragged across the ground with a rope and also had an extension cord leading back to the van.

We appeared bright and early in the morning, and set up our equipment with the idea of trolling for Jimmy Hoffa. In the process we use several different antennas starting with the long wave and, first and gradually using antennas of much shorter wavelength that possessed a greater definition of what was underground.

Even though we searched both end zones, and a great deal of other territory inside Giants Stadium there wasn't a trace of Jimmy Hoffa that we could find. Jimmy Hoffa was just not there on that day; nor was he there for the team from Mythbusters around 20 years later.

We originally acquired the GPR rig for use in our environmental business to look for underground storage tanks, pipelines and other objects of interest. It quickly became apparent that one of the major uses for GPR was going to be in the forensic investigations such as the Jimmy Hoffa case. In the course of our investigation we even caused the conviction of one murderer and sent him to the electric chair in Maryland.

More than 35 years later the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa is still a mystery that may never be solved.


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Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
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Posted on May 5, 2011
James R. Coffey
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Posted on Apr 27, 2011