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The Hunt for Hoffa
An FBI agent gathers up crime scene tape while moving the news media further away from a field outside Detroit where agents are searching for the alleged remains of former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa.
June 18th, 2013
08:37 PM ET

The Hunt for Hoffa

By Tommy Andres, CNN

(CNN) - Just three miles from the house in which I grew up, FBI agents are digging for the body of Jimmy Hoffa. For two days they've been wading through waist-high grass in a field in Oakland Township, Michigan, trying to unearth secrets from one of the most famous cold cases in American history.

Hoffa was the leader of the Teamsters, the biggest union in the auto industry, in a time when the Big Three dominated the global car market. But his ties to the mob are believed to be what put him in peril.

He was last seen on July 30, 1975 leaving the Machus Red Fox restaurant in suburban Detroit. There have been a slew of tips over the past decade that have led to investigations. Floorboards were torn out of a home in a search for blood, a driveway was drilled for human DNA and most notably in 2006 a horse barn was torn down so FBI agents could dig beneath it.

All of these searches turned up nothing.

So, why are they digging again?

"What I tell people is, if that was your loved one, would you want the FBI and the law enforcement to be doing this? And I think most people would say yes."

Andy Arena is a former FBI Special Agent who was in charge of the FBI's Detroit office from 2007-2012. He says the FBI has two messages to send, one to criminals and one to law-abiding citizens: That the FBI never gives up.

Investigators tasked with this latest search are carrying binders that read "Big Dig 2" on the cover, a wink to that last hunt now viewed mostly as a punchline.

But Arena says this claim carries more weight than any before, because the 85-year-old former mobster who pointed authorities to this latest spot is from La Cosa Nostra in Detroit. Which, unlike the syndicates in other big cities, is made up of only family members, either by blood or by marriage. And who can keep a secret better than family?

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Filed under: Crime • History • Soundwaves • Stories
Texas law: kill an escort with no penalty
Texas Gov. Rick Perry fires a six-shooter pistol. Following a recent acquittal in a murder case, a Texas law on use of deadly force is under scrutiny.
June 12th, 2013
11:46 AM ET

Texas law: kill an escort with no penalty

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) –In Florida jury selection continues in the murder case of Trayvon Martin. The case has drawn national attention for its elements of  race and the question over when deadly force is justified.

A thousand miles west of Sanford, Florida in San Antonio, Texas, a case has just concluded with similar questions about the use of deadly force. James Moore wrote about the case for CNN Opinion:

[6:33] "I don't quite understand why the national media hasn't discovered it in a greater way, this case is every bit as horrific and every bit as tragic."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • Media • Soundwaves • Stories
Who cares about Jodi Arias?
May 23rd, 2013
05:15 PM ET

Who cares about Jodi Arias?

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - The 12 people who unanimously convicted Jodi Arias of first degree murder earlier this month are having a little more trouble deciding whether she should live or die. They've been mulling it over all week, and if they can't come to an agreement, Arias could get a new trial with a new jury.

Twelve new people who will have to make that life-or-death decision.

As the country awaits an answer to that giant question, we wanted the answer to a different one. Why is this case so dang popular?

CNN's sister network HLN has been leading the coverage of the trial since it began on January 2, and it's been a big ratings boon.

We met up with HLN After Dark Executive Producer Jennifer Bernstein on a television set that may just make television history: a life-sized model of Travis Alexander's apartment where Jodi Arias murdered him.

Bernstein told us about the thought process behind the display's creation:

[0:41] "In recreating this killing scene, which is something unusual for HLN, we hadn't done something to this scale before – we had concerns about going too far and what is that line that you cross. So, to be honest with you, there was a lot more blood in that crime scene. This was a man who was stabbed almost 30 times, his throat was slit. He was shot. So you can imagine there was a lot of blood in that crime scene. And when we first built this we had a lot more red paint marking the blood. After meeting, we decided it was too much so we actually painted back over it to scale it down."

Bernstein says she thinks HLN viewers who have gotten wrapped up in the case are very smart. She describes them as couch jurors and psychiatrists:

[2:26] "Along the way they've emailed very detailed questions and observations, sometimes observations that our own trial experts hadn't picked up on. Everything we've done has been in response to their involvement. So, we've seen a huge interest online and acting as that 13th juror, with people giving their take and, if they were on the jury, what questions they would be asking."

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

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Filed under: Crime • Culture • Media • Soundwaves • Stories
CNN Radio News Day: May 1, 2013
A collection of fireworks found inside a backpack that belonged to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
May 1st, 2013
04:43 PM ET

CNN Radio News Day: May 1, 2013

CNN Radio News Day is an evening news program providing an informative, thoughtful and creative look at the day's events. It's posted Monday through Friday at 4:30 pm ET.

You don’t have to be at this blog to listen, we want you to take us with you! Click the download button in the SoundCloud player and put us on your smart phone or tablet and bring us with you in the car, on the train or while you’re working out.

(CNN) – Welcome to CNN Radio News Day. Here's some of the stories we are covering in today's show:

  • Three more people are behind bars today, in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings. All are 19-year-old males – Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov, and Robel Phillipos. Charges against the teens suggest they helped the accused bombers and obstructed justice by throwing-out evidence. CNN's Brian Todd that evidence included a backpack filled with fireworks, a jar of vaseline, and a homework assignment:

"They removed that (backpack), at least one of them, put that in a black trash bag and into a dumpster, and that was then taken to a landfill. Investigators later found that backpack in the landfill with those items in it." FULL POST

CNN Radio News Day: April 25, 2013
Smoke rises after shelling on al-Turkman mountains in the Latakia province, western Syria on April 25, 2013. The White House said that Syria had likely used chemical weapons against rebel forces on a 'small scale,' but emphasized US spy agencies were still not 100 percent sure of the assessment.
April 25th, 2013
04:42 PM ET

CNN Radio News Day: April 25, 2013

CNN Radio News Day is an evening news program providing an informative, thoughtful and creative look at the day's events. It's posted Monday through Friday at 4:30 pm ET.

You don’t have to be at this blog to listen, we want you to take us with you! Click the download button in the SoundCloud player and put us on your smart phone or tablet and bring us with you in the car, on the train or while you’re working out.

(CNN) – Welcome to CNN Radio News Day.

  • Are we about to see U.S. troops go into Syria? U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel backed up today what an Israeli military official said earlier in the week – that chemical weapons were being used inside Syria. If that's the case, has the so-called 'red line' now been crossed? And does that mean a new involvement for the U.S. inside the war-torn country? John Ullyot is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who has spent time in Syria:

"The U.S. is really on the seat now to take action. Because if it doesn't take action, and indeed chemical weapons have been used, then it looses credibility with all sorts of important players in the region going forward." FULL POST

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