Former WWE Legend Jimmy Superfly Snuka Charged With 1983 Murder Of Ex Girlfriend


On Tuesday, Snuka, 72, was charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter after a Lehigh County grand jury determined he repeatedly assaulted Argentino in May 1983 in the motel and then left her in bed to die.

Snuka, who lives in Camden County, N.J., and is recovering from stomach cancer surgery, surrendered to Lehigh County authorities in Allentown and was arraigned by District Judge Robert Halal.

He was sent to the county jail under $100,000 bail, which he later posted.

“Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story” was meant to highlight his Hall of Fame career, but Lehigh County authorities say it also helped crack a 32-year-old mystery — the death of Snuka’s 23-year-old girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, after she was found unconscious in a Whitehall Township motel.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced the charges at a news conference two years after the case was reopened.

The grand jury probe was prompted by a 2013 Morning Call investigation that raised questions about the Argentino case 30 years after her death.

The Morning Call story revealed a never-before-seen autopsy report that labeled the case a homicide.

It is the coldest case Martin has ever taken before a grand jury, and also the oldest one to result in charges in Lehigh County.

On May 10, 1983, Snuka was at a taping of a then-World Wrestling Federation event at the Allentown Fairgrounds.

He returned to the George Washington Motor Lodge motel room to find Argentino, gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose, court records say.

Paramedics arrived at the motel — now the site of Home Depot along MacArthur Road and Route 22 — and found Snuka, a police officer and two wrestlers there, according to court records.

Argentino was unconscious, barely breathing and her dilated pupils and rapid heart rate indicated she had a head injury and was likely in shock, court records say.

Argentino was pronounced dead at a Lehigh Valley Hospital emergency room the next day.

An autopsy determined she died of traumatic brain injuries and had suffered 39 cuts and bruises — a possible sign of “mate abuse” — on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.

The autopsy also determined her injuries were consistent with being hit with a stationary object about 12 to 24 hours before she died.

The forensic pathologist at the time, Isidore Mihalakis, said a delay in getting her medical help affected the ability of the emergency room staff to save her life.

In the autopsy report, Mihalakis wrote the case should be investigated as a homicide until proved otherwise.

The decision to charge Snuka came after the grand jury listened to testimony and statements from 20 witnesses and Lehigh County Detective Gerald Procanyn, who investigated the case in 1983 as a Whitehall police detective and was there when Argentino was hurried to the hospital.

Snuka 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.

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.

After Argentino died, though, Snuka spoke to a hospital chaplain and to Procanyn, giving both men different accounts of how she died.

“We believe it is important to note that James Snuka changed the location of the injuries in his discussion with the chaplain to happening on the highway traveling to [the George Washington Motor Lodge], but still admitted that she sustained her injury after he shoved her and she fell backward, hitting her head on the concrete,”

the grand jury wrote in the presentment.

He told the chaplain that Argentino told him she had a headache when they got to the motel and wanted to go to bed. He went to a diner and got them food, even though Argentino said she wasn’t hungry.

“Snuka stated the victim passed out in the room and hit her head on the side of the chair or bed. He kept checking on her, and she was breathing OK,”

The wrestler said he left for work in the afternoon, came back, then left again to tape a television show.

In the autopsy report, Mihalakis wrote the case should be investigated as a homicide until proved otherwise.


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