Grand Jury Will Review 1983 Death of Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka's Girlfriend

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2014

Photo courtesy of WWE.com

More than 30 years since the death of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka's girlfriend, Nancy L. Argentino, the case will be reviewed by a grand jury in Lehigh Valley, Penn., according to Peter Hall of The Morning Call.   

Snuka is one of the most revered professional wrestlers in the history of the business, and he competed regularly for promotions such as WWE, AWA and ECW from 1982 through 1994. He is also responsible for one of the most iconic wrestling moments of all time, when he hit his patented Superfly Splash on "Magnificent" Don Muraco off the top of a 15-foot-high steel cage in New York's Madison Square Garden on Oct. 17, 1983.

Just months prior to that historic feat, however, Snuka's girlfriend died tragically. According to Hall, Argentino's death occurred on May 10, 1983, at a George Washington Motor Lodge motel in Whitehall, Penn. The autopsy revealed that she had died of traumatic brain injuries.

Argentino also had two dozen cuts on various parts of her body, which prompted forensic pathologist Dr. Isidore Mihalakis to suggest that the death be viewed as a potential homicide in his autopsy report, per Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman of The Morning Call.

"In view of the autopsy findings and the discrepancies in the clinical history, I believe that the case should be investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise," Mihalakis wrote.

In addition to that, there were inconsistencies in Snuka's interview with police following Argentino's death. According to a transcript of the interview obtained by The Morning Call, Snuka claimed that Argentino had hit her head on the side of the road en route to Lehigh Valley:

One the way here, we stopped on the side of the road to use the bathroom. She was desperate to use the bathroom so she went a little into the bushes and squatted. In the meantime there were a lot of trucks coming by. So I said to hurry up and she jumped across the grass on the road. And then she slipped and fell backwards and hit her head. Right on the concrete on the side of the road, she just slipped backwards. I'm pretty sure this happened on Rte. 22 coming down. We were already in Pennsylvania.

Snuka provided this account after he had already allegedly told hospital employees that he pushed Argentino during an argument. When asked about that, Snuka claimed that the hospital employees had misunderstood him:

They got that wrong, that's not right. This is when we came here, I'm helping her. When we were here in the room, she was starting to feel a lot better, but, so then we got to playing around and I said, 'Let me help you. Let me undress your clothes for you, honey.' And then we started pushing around here then, you know.

Snuka then said that the previously mentioned argument was "just nothing." According to Hall, Snuka claimed that he found Argentino gasping for air in their motel after working the WWF tapings at Allentown Fairgrounds, but this explanation has come under fire.

One person who believes that the case should be explored more extensively is Argentino's sister, Lorraine Salome, per Clark and Amerman.

"I feel like the police didn't take it as far as they should have," Salome said. "The whole thing, for our family, is still up in the air. We still walk around wondering, 'What the hell?'"

Snuka, who is now 70 years of age, is the father of current WWE Diva Tamina Snuka. He has made various appearances for WWE since entering semi-retirement in 1994, but it remains to be seen how potential charges against him would impact that working relationship.

Although Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin has made the decision to reopen the investigation, he doubted that there was "much to be gained" when asked about it in June 2013, per Clark and Amerman.

The decision regarding whether charges will be levied against Snuka now hinges on a 23-person grand jury, and the possibility of a long and arduous trial certainly exists.

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