DETROIT A hair from Jimmy Hoffa was reportedly discovered in a car a longtime friend was driving the day the former Teamsters boss disappeared in 1975, shedding some light on one of the nation's biggest crime mysteries.
The Detroit News reported Friday that the strand discovery was made in the car of Charles "Chuckie" O'Brien, who had been taken in by Hoffa as a child and is believed to be one of the few people who would have persuaded him to get into a car on July 30, 1975.
FBI scientists matched DNA from hair taken from Hoffa's brush with the hair found in O'Brien's car, the newspaper reported, citing two unidentified sources.
Hoffa's body was never found, and his disappearance has been the subject of widespread speculation. He is presumed dead after vanishing from a Detroit-area restaurant.
O'Brien has maintained Hoffa never was in the car, and he repeatedly has denied any role in Hoffa's disappearance.
Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, who is now Teamsters president, expressed hope that the DNA match might provide investigators a break in the case.
"We'd always hoped there would be a deathbed confession," he said Friday at a news conference. "It hasn't happened yet. Hopefully, through DNA, we now have a breakthrough."
The younger Hoffa said he had been in contact with the FBI during the past year about the DNA evidence.
Hoffa said he had not talked to O'Brien in 26 years. But Hoffa said he confronted O'Brien shortly after his father's disappearance and asked: '"Where were you? How do you explain yourself?' His reaction was to run out of the room."
The newspaper said O'Brien couldn't be reached for comment. O'Brien's attorney, William E. Bufalino II, said his client, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., denies any involvement in Hoffa's disappearance "as he has over the last 26 years."
Bufalino said the FBI indicated it was setting up a grand jury, and O'Brien "will honor whatever commands they make."