DETROIT -- The relatives of former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, who vanished seven years ago, have begun a lengthy process to declare the labor boss legally dead and settle his estimated $1 million estate.
'It is the end of a long, hard road,' said his son, James P. Hoffa, on the seventh anniversary Friday of his father's disappearance. 'We have no hope left at all. We assume he's dead.
'This is a very difficult thing to do,' Hoffa, a Detroit attorney, said as he prepared to petition Oakland County Probate Court to declare presumption of death.
Under federal law, heirs must wait seven years before taking such action.
Police in Flint Friday investigated the stabbing of Hoffa's 40-year-old nephew, Thomas Hoffa. Authorities have refused to comment if the stabbing is related to the settling to the estate.
The nephew, who works at AC Spark Plug, received a telephone call at the plant Thursday that his home was on fire. Police said he was attacked by several people and stabbed twice in the stomach as he walked to his car. He remained hospitalized Friday in fair condition.
Victor Coen, attorney in the estimated $1 million Hoffa estate, said the petition filing was the first step in a three-year process leading to settlement.
Hoffa disappeared July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in suburban Bloomfield Township.
Despite one of the largest manhunts in FBI history, no trace of the former union leader has ever been found. His wife, Josephine, died three years later. FBI spokesman John Anthony said the agency remained confident the case eventually would be solved.
'It is still being aggressively pursued,' he said. 'The solution lies with someone coming forth.'
Investigators and Hoffa's son believe the reason for the abduction and presumed murder was Hoffa's attempt to regain control of the giant international union after having a prison sentence communuted by President Richard Nixon in 1971.
Hoffa got his start at Local 299 in Detroit and served as international union president from 1957 until he was sent to prison in 1967 on bribery and fraud charges and Frank Fitzsimmons took over.
An organized crime informant testified before a Senate committee earlier this summer that Hoffa was ordered killed by Fitzsimmons, and his body dumped in a Florida swamp.