The way Sheeran saw it, the Mob only had two choices: murder Hoffa or put him in the plot. By doing that, they got a chance to make sure they could trust him—it was the only way. To Sheeran, Hoffa was admired, almost idolized. He did not take the order to get rid of Hoffa easily, but Sheeran figured that if he did not do it, Bufalino would get someone else and he probably would get whacked, too. Sheeran didn’t feel good about the assignment but he was a natural born killer. The disturbing part of the plan for Sheeran was that Hoffa could have avoided his fate anytime he wanted. All he had to do was drop out of race for the Teamster’s presidency. Unfortunately for Hoffa, he believed he was untouchable.
Arriving at the small airport near Detroit, Sheeran jumped into the non-descript dusty Ford that was waiting for him. The keys were on the floor mat as planned, and he drove off to the house to meet Provenzano henchman and Local 560 business agent Salvatore “Sally Bugs” Briguglio. After driving a few minutes Sheeran pulled into the driveway behind a brown Buick. He walked up the stairs, opened the unlocked door and was greeted by Sally Bugs. From the small vestibule he could see two Italian guys sitting in the kitchen at the back of the house. They would be the cleanup crew after the deed was done. The plan was to be conducted like a military operation, which suited Sheeran to a tee.
A few minutes after arriving at the brown shingled house, Jimmy Hoffa’s foster son, Chuckie O’Brien, drove up. O’Brien was driving Tony Giacolone’s son’s maroon Mercury and the familiar car was meant to put both O’Brien and Hoffa at ease. Hoffa was expecting Tony Giacalone, so having the car, with Chuckie as the driver, was part of the bait. It was time to move. Sheeran sat in the front passenger seat with O’Brien while Sally Bugs sat in the passenger seat behind O’Brien. The maroon Mercury got to the Red Fox in less than fifteen minutes. When they got there, they saw Hoffa’s green Pontiac in the restaurant’s parking lot but Hoffa was nowhere in sight. O’Brien parked the car with the motor running, and a minute later they saw Hoffa coming toward his car from the area of the hardware store behind the restaurant. O’Brien slowly pulled up to Hoffa surprising him. “What the fuck are you even doing here? Who the fuck invited you?” Hoffa screamed, poking his finger at O’Brien. Hoffa looked in the back seat and saw Sally Bugs.
“Who the fuck is he?” Hoffa yelled. “I’m with Tony Pro,” Sally said. “What the fuck is going on here? Your fucking boss was supposed to be here at 2:00,” Hoffa barked. Sally Bugs then pointed to the person in the front seat. Hoffa lowered his head and saw Sheeran. “His friend (Russell Bufalino) wanted to be at the thing. They’re at the house waiting,” Sally Bugs said. Telling Hoffa that Bufalino was going to be at meeting was the final bait. Hoffa was smart enough to know that if there was going to be any violence, Bufalino would not be there. I thought you were supposed to call me last night. I waited in front of the restaurant at 2:00 for you. You were going to be sitting in my car when they showed. I was going to make them get in for a sit-down,” Hoffa said. Sheeran told Hoffa they were delayed and that Bufalino had a change of plans and wanted to meet with him at the house. Hoffa was getting really pissed off and impatient by now. About forty-five minutes had gone by since he got to the Red Fox, and he wanted to get the meeting done and over with. He then came around the car and got in and sat behind Sheeran. It worked. O’Brien took the car out of neutral and drove off. “Who the fuck is Pro sending a fucking errand boy?” Hoffa exclaimed. “We’ll be there in two minutes,” O’Brien piped in, trying to calm things down. Hoffa told Sheeran that he had called his wife. “You could have left a message,” Hoffa said. Without missing a beat, Sheeran explained that Bufalino did not want him to say anything about the plans over the telephone. “At least somebody could’ve told me 2:30 . . . at the very least,” Hoffa said.
The four men arrived at the house about 3:00 and stopped near the brick steps to the front door. Two cars, a brown Buick and black Ford, were in the driveway and this signaled to Hoffa that people were in the house. To Sheeran, the timing of the plot was crucial because alibis had to be considered. Hoffa got out of the rear door of the maroon Mercury while Sheeran got out of the front door at the same time. Sally Bugs then stepped out of the rear door and went around and sat in the passenger seat next to Chuckie O’Brien and they drove away. Meanwhile, Hoffa headed quickly to the steps with Sheeran behind him. Hoffa opened the front door, walked into the small vestibule while Sheeran shut the door. When Hoffa realized that nobody was coming out of any of the rooms, he knew what it was. Hoffa turned around fast, stepped around Sheeran, reaching for the doorknob. At that very moment, Sheeren fired two shots into Hoffa’s head behind his right ear. Sheeran looked down the hall to make sure nobody came out to get him, then dropped the gun and walked out the door, got into his black Ford and drove back to the Pontiac airport for the short flight to Port Clinton.
Bufalino told Sheeran later that after the two Italian guys cleaned the house, they took Hoffa out the back door and put him in the trunk of the Buick. They then took Hoffa to be cremated. When that was done, the cleaners picked up Sally Bugs at Pete Vitale’s meatpacking plant and drove to an airport where the three boarded a plane for New Jersey to report to Tony Pro. When Sheeran landed at the small airfield in Port Clinton, Bufalino was sleeping in Sheeran’s black Lincoln. He got into his car, started the engine, and woke Bufalino from his slumber. Bufalino looked up at Sheeran, winked at him with his good eye and in his gritty voice said, “Anyway, I hope you had a pleasant flight, my Irish friend.” Sheeran looked at Bufalino, “I hope you had a good sleep.” They picked up the ladies at the restaurant a few minutes later and continued their trip to Detroit, arriving just before 7:00 p.m.
About six weeks after Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in 1975, a grand jury convened in Detroit. A grand jury is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and determine whether criminal charges should be brought forward. Nine suspects were ordered to appear: Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, Stephen Andretta, Thomas Andretta, Salvatore “Sal” Briguglio, Gabriel “Gabe” Briguglio, Francis Joseph “Frank” Sheeran, Russell Bufalino, Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone, and Chuckie O’Brien. All nine were represented by Bill Bufalino and all of them took the Fifth Amendment. Frank Sheeran took the Fifth on every question he was asked, including whether the prosecutor’s yellow pen was yellow.
This is an excerpt from Vanished: The Life and Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa by William Hryb (Gangland Mysteries) Order it on www.amazon.com