'The Irishman' Fact vs. Fiction: Inside Jimmy Hoffa's Open Murder Case

Netflix's latest film, The Irishman, takes a stab at a dramatized true-crime story that captivated America.

The film's plot follows Frank Sheeran's involvement with a crime family run by Jimmy Hoffa, the former President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union. Sheeran joins the ranks of the Pennsylvania group after a simple life as a truck driver and quickly gets swept into a world of organized crime.

The Irishman is based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, which includes Sheeran's recounting of his relationship with Hoffa and the connection between the two men. Given that the book is primarily Sheernan's explanations, some of the stories may be skewed or changed for dramatic purposes. Many of Sheeran's claims in the book remain unproven, and some critics feel that he overstated his involvement in Hoffa's death.

However, Sheeran did commit a handful of crimes in his life.

The Irishman
The Irishman was released on Netflix Wednesday. Netflix

Much of the film surrounds the death of Hoffa and there are still major questions surrounding the crime boss' murder. Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and though his body was never found, he was officially declared dead in 1982. Sheeran has offered one of the few accounts of what happened to Hoffa. He detailed the union boss' death for Brandt's book.

In the book, Sheeran explained he not only killed Hoffa, but was seated beside Hoffa in the car that drove the crime boss to his death. Sheeran's account claims he shot Hoffa in a Detroit house in 1975.

Although Sheeran took ownership for the crime, there are many theories that claim Sheeran didn't actually kill Hoffa. According to the FBI, 14 people have claimed to be responsible for killing the crime boss.

There has been support for Sheeran's story, including from a forensic pathologist. "Sheeran's confession that he killed Hoffa in the manner described in the book is supported by the forensic evidence, is entirely credible, and solves the Hoffa mystery," Dr. Michael Baden wrote in his endorsement for I Heard You Paint Houses when it was released in 2004.

Baden isn't the only one who claims Brandt's book solves the case, but the FBI still considers Hoffa's death an open investigation. No one was ever charged with the murder. Many documents on Hoffa's murder are available on the FBI website.

One recent account in opposition to Sheeran's confession comes from Jack Goldsmith, author of another book about Hoffa and Sheeran. Goldsmith wrote In Hoffa's Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth, which was released in September. Goldsmith's stepfather was an associate of Hoffa named Chuckie O'Brien.

Goldsmith, who is a Harvard professor, "disowned" his stepfather because he was associated with Hoffa's death, the book synopsis on Amazon reads, until his own work in the administration of former President George W. Bush made him question the workings and surveillance of the American government.

Goldsmith claims Sheeran didn't kill Hoffa and in an interview with Fox News, the author claimed the tale told in The Irishman is "preposterous."

"The bottom line is that there is no evidence to support it, there are a lot of reasons to think Sheeran couldn't have been involved and of all of the many FBI investigators who over the decades covered the case that I spoke to, agreed that he couldn't have been involved," Goldsmith told the cable news network.

Before his death in 2003, Sheeran also claimed to have knowledge of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.