01.29.14

(Probably) Coming To A PA Courtroom : The People Vs. Jimmy Snuka

Posted in Professional Wrestling, Sports Journalism, The Law at 2:31 pm by

Last June, The Allentown Morning-Call successfully revived the cold case of  the death Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s paramour, Nancy Argentino, who perished in 1983 under what could diplomatically be called suspicious circumstances.  On Tuesday, the paper’s Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman reported a grand jury would investigate Argentino’s demise, with Lehigh County District Attorty Jim Martin, “reaching further into the past for an indictment than he ever has before.”

Martin’s announcement comes seven months after he assigned a chief deputy to take a “fresh look” at the cold case. That decision to re-examine the case came less than three weeks after The Morning Call published an investigation raising questions about Argentino’s death and revealing a never-before-seen autopsy report that labeled the case a homicide.

Snuka, now 70 and living in Waterford Township, N.J., originally told at least five people, including the responding police officer, he shoved Argentino earlier that day, causing her to fall and hit her head, according to police interviews obtained by The Morning Call. He later told police those five people misunderstood him, and said Argentino slipped and hit her head when they stopped along the highway to urinate.

Argentino, of Brooklyn, N.Y., died May 11, 1983, at Lehigh Valley Hospital of traumatic brain injuries consistent with a moving head hitting a stationary object, according to the autopsy.

Autopsy findings show Argentino suffered more than two dozen cuts and bruises — a possible sign of “mate abuse” — on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.

Snuka could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In his 2012 autobiography, he maintained his innocence and said Argentino’s death ruined his life.

“Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true,” he wrote. “This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her.”

Irvin Mushnick, who investigated the story for an (unpublished) 1992 Village Voice piece notes in today’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, “as so often happens with celebrity suspects and nobody victims, Snuka skated accountability at the time. But not before Vince McMahon rushed back down from Connecticut, carrying a briefcase (as Snuka himself would describe the scene, without evident self-awareness, in his 2012 autobiography).”

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