Jimmy Hoffa search: Clues found in tavern wall

6:52 AM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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OLD BROOKLYN - The mystery of Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance has captivated many for the past 38 years. Is there a chance the former Teamsters boss has been buried in Cleveland all this time?

Over the years there have been frequent searches for Hoffa including one as recent as last fall in the Detroit area.

Today the search turned to the site of Wexler's Tavern on State Road in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood where the new owner and now possibly the FBI may be interested.

In the tavern's basement, a wall is being dismantled in an effort to determine if this was Hoffa's final resting place.

With every swing of the sledgehammer, Doug Graziano hopes he is getting closer to solving the mystery. "This is the claim and if its Hoffa that would be right on," said Graziano.

Wexler's previous owner, Lou Gentile, and his then business partner found bones wrapped in red-butcher paper inside the wall 25 years ago when they were renovating the tavern. The bones were neatly wrapped in seven football-shaped packages. Gentile says he called police but officers instructed him to throw the bones away.

"I'm thinking, wow. These are human bones. And then all the history of the tavern came flooding back, that there was a connection with Jimmy Hoffa, and the people who were around the tavern at the time," Gentile said.

When Doug Graziano, the new owner heard the story he was intrigued. He was even more fascinated when while cutting out a panel in the wall he found a a matchbook from the Palm Desert Lodge in California. The lodge was dubbed "the house Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters built."

During Wednesday's search, 11 bone fragments were found. Cleveland police officers arrived at the tavern late Wednesday night, and transported the bones to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office, where it will be determined whether the bones are of human origin.

Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in 1975.

Dave Neale, Sr. owned the tavern, then known as Hillcrest Tavern, during the 1970s. Neale passed away in 2009, but his son, Dave, Jr. says he never knew of any connection between his father's tavern and Hoffa.

When asked what he thought his father would have thought about the intrigue over the newly discovered bones, Neale said, "He'd probably be laughing about it right about now."

"But it gave me a chance to think about him today. It really did," he said as he smiled.

Read more about the bar and the search: http://on.wkyc.com/YU6QnQ.

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