There had been rumors for years on the wrestling circuitregarding “Superfly”Jimmy Snuka and the death of his girlfriend. Over 30 years after Nancy Argentinodied, Snuka -the WWE (formerly WWF) legend – is being charged with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Of note, Snuka’s daughter Tamina is a current WWE wrestler. She did not address the situation regarding her father on Twitter Wednesday, but around the same time that the news broke, she posted a birthday message for her daughter Milaneta.
Here is some of the backstory on the now 70-year-oldSnuka’s charges:
“Argentino had regularly traveled with Snuka on the burgeoning pro wrestling circuit, while he had a wife and four children in North Carolina.
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. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim reviewed the autopsy findings for the grand jury and agreed the case should be ruled a homicide.
Besides the medical evidence, one of the biggest factors for the charges, Martin said, was Snuka’s inconsistent statements.
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,” according to the presentment.
The wrestler said he left for work in the afternoon, came back, then left again to tape a television show.
“When he came back around 9 p.m., yellow stuff was coming out of her nose and mouth. He knew something was obviously wrong and called for help from [an] ambulance.”
The presentment says Snuka gave seven versions of Argentino’s death that night and morning, and the grand jury learned of “several additional versions and explanations” in the years since, from Snuka’s autobiography and from two radio show podcasts.
“The grand jury believes it is important to note how James Snuka related in his autobiography the state of his behavior that ‘… in 1983, my personal life started getting a little crazy’ especially in his frequent use of alcohol, steroids and cocaine.”
In the book, Snuka also discussed his arrest on charges of assaulting Argentino on Jan. 18, 1983, in a hotel near Syracuse, N.Y. — four months before Argentino’s death. Snuka’s account differed from the official police account.
That day, two police deputies arrived and “observed the muscular James Snuka forcibly dragging the naked Ms. Argentino down the hallway by her hair as she was draped in a blanket and was shouting that she wanted to get away from Snuka.”
Snuka was charged with assault, resisting arrest and obstruction, but later pleaded guilty to reduced charges and paid a fine that was donated to charity. Argentino was treated at a hospital for injuries to her head, back and scalp.
The grand jury also heard testimony from Snuka’s former wife, Sharon Reiher Snuka, who is now remarried. She told the panel about “a series of beatings” she sustained during arguments with her husband in the fall of 1983 that resulted in her being hospitalized.
Snuka was the only person of interest in Argentino’s death but was never charged.”