Jul 28, 2014
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Grand Jury to Probe 1983 Death of Wrestler Jimmy Snuka's Girlfriend

A Lehigh County, PA, grand jury will investigate the 1983 death of Nancy L. Argentino in Whitehall, PA.

Grand Jury to Probe 1983 Death of Wrestler Jimmy Snuka's Girlfriend
Written by Jack Tobias

More than 30 years after the Lehigh Valley, PA, death of pro wrestling legend Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka's girlfriend, a Lehigh County grand jury will investigate the case.

That announcement was made Tuesday by Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin in reference to the May 1983 death of Nancy L. Argentino, 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was taken to a hospital from the former George Washington Motor Lodge on MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township, PA, where she was staying with Snuka.

No one was ever charged in Argentino's death.

Snuka told police Argentino  had slipped and fallen when she got out of their car en route to the Lehigh Valley, hitting her head, according to a post on SLAM! Wrestling. He said he had no idea she was in distress until later when he returned to their motel room after World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) television tapings at the Allentown Fairgrounds.

Patch profiled the high-flying pro wrestler, who lives in Camden County, NJ, last January when Snuka released his autobiography. In his book, Snuka denies he caused Argentino’s death.  

“I will say this about the whole thing, brudda—that night ruined my life,” he writes. “To this day, that is how I feel.”

Argentino's death came seven days before Snuka's 40th birthday. Snuka, now 70, was born James William Reiher.

In 1985, the Argentino family won a $500,000 wrongful-death lawsuit against Snuka. But he never paid, claiming he was broke.

Another look at the case

Martin, in his announcement, noted the role of Gerald Procanyn, who investigated the case as the lead Whitehall Township detective and is currently a Lehigh County detective.

Martin also explained: "Several months ago, I was contacted by the surviving sisters of Nancy L. Argentino, who died under unusual circumstances."

He said he directed Charles F. Gallagher III, the chief deputy district attorney, to review the case's investigative file and all evidence gathered by Procanyn and others.

Martin said Gallagher "has recommended that the district attorney's office utilize the power and resources of the current investigating grand jury in this matter. Accordinghy, I directed that the circumstances surrounding the death of Nancy L. Argentino ... be presented to the seventh investigating grand jury, which is currently empanelled."

The DA also cautioned "it will take months before the grand jury concludes its work on this case."

The case is the subject of the book "Justice Denied: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino's Death in Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka's Motel Room." The book was published in April 2013, according to a posting on  amazon.com.

The author, Irvin Muchnick, published a 1992 article about the case that was included in his 2007 book "Wrestling Babylon." Muchnick, according to the posting, updated his material for last year's book.

The posting also says that in conjunction with the Argentino family, all royalties from the book would go to My Sisters' Place, a battered women's shelter and resource center in White Plains, N.Y.

While in the Lehigh Valley, Snuka and Argentino were staying at the former George Washington lodge, whose blooming cherry trees were a familiar sign of spring to local residents. The lodge property is now occupied by a Home Depot.


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