DETROIT -- Former Teamster President James R. Hoffa was declared legally dead Wednesday, seven years and four months after he disappeared from a suburban restaurant.
One of the largest manhunts in history failed to turn up any trace of Hoffa's whereabouts. Investigators have no witnesses, no indictments and no body, though the FBI said it still expects to solve the mystery of the former Teamster boss' disappearance.
In a short, routine hearing Wednesday, Oakland County Probate Judge Norman R. Barnard declared Hoffa officially dead as of July 30, 1982 - precisely seven years after his disappearance. Hoffa's son and daughter were named official heirs to his $1.2 million estate, officials said.
Hoffa has not been heard from since he was reported missing July 30, 1975. He disappeared from the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Mich., where he had gone for a business meeting.
On the day of his disappearance Hoffa left home, telling his family he was going to keep a luncheon appointment. Authorities believed that appointment was with Anthony 'Tony Jack' Giacalone, a reputed crime syndicate figure. Giacalone has denied it.
When Hoffa did not check in at home, as was his custom, a nationwide hunt was launched for him, with the FBI entering the case - conducting one of the largest manhunts in history -- on the basis of extortion calls made to his family.
Hoffa's wife, Josephine, died in September 1980.
Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, a Detroit lawyer, and daughter Barabara Ann Crancer, filed presumption of death papers with the court four months ago to have their father legally declared dead.
'We are still confident the case will be solved,' FBI spokesman John Anthony said when the presumption of death papers were filed.
During Wednesday's hearing, James P. Hoffa was declared 'the personal representative of James R. Hoffa, a legally presumed dead person.'
Under probate rules, the heirs must wait three years before they can claim the assets of their father's estate.