In 1996, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was inducted into the WWF hall of fame for his contributions to the wrestling world that spanned nearly 15 years, but 19 years later he would become famous for something far more sinister.
It was May 10, 1983. Snuka had just finished up a match at the Lehigh County Agricultural Hall, annihilating his opponent, Jose Estrada, during a WWF television broadcast. The married Snuka went with his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, to the George Washington Motor Lodge within hours after the taping. According to Snuka, Argentino had suffered a fall after stopping at a truck stop on their way to the Allentown hotel. Snuka contacted emergency services to transport Argentino to the hospital, but her injuries proved to be fatal. Argentino died at the hospital shortly after her arrival.
An autopsy report states that Argentino’s fatal injuries were consistent with “a moving head striking a stationary object,” but could not be attributed to a single fall, given the amount of bruising and scratches that covered Argentino’s body. A forensic pathologist recommended for the case to be investigated as a homicide, on the basis that the extent of Argentino’s injuries had been suggestive of “mate” abuse.
According to The Morning Call, Whitehall Township Police listed Snuka as a “person of interest” in the death of Argentino. On June 1, 1983, a follow-up interview was conducted with Snuka on the events that had transpired on the night of May 10th, but no formal charges were ever filed. The case quickly became nothing more than a few documents shoved into the back of a filing cabinet.
An independent investigation conducted by Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman on behalf of The Morning Call revealed that in the months leading up to Argentino’s death there were signs that there had been trouble in the relationship. According to a deposition reviewed by The Morning Call, in January of 1983, police were called to a Howard Johnson hotel near Syracuse after guests reported that it sounded as if a male had been beating up a female in Room 1.
When police arrived on the scene an officer reported witnessing Snuka grab Argentino by her hair and drag her face across the wall. Five officers and two police dogs were required to apprehend Snuka. Argentino later swore in a deposition that Snuka had never intentionally struck or harmed her in any way. Snuka was able to have his charges stemming from this incident reduced to a simple harassment charge in April of 1983, a month later Argentino would be dead.
Two years after Argentino’s death her surviving family filed a civil suit against Snuka. The family was awarded a $500,000 settlement, but no amount of money could ever be a proper substitute for justice.
Nearly three decades later, Argentino’s death was re-examined after The Morning Call brought the case back into the spotlight. In 2015, Snuka was arrested and formally charged for the murder of Nancy Argentino. Unfortunately for the Argentino family, justice would not prevail.
At the time of Snuka’s arrest, the former champion wrestler had been suffering from myriad ailments. He was determined to be unfit to stand trial on account of dementia and on January 3, 2017, the charges against 73-year-old Snuka were dropped after he was placed into hospice care.
Weeks after the case was dismissed Snuka succumbed to his battle with stomach cancer. The world has lost a once beloved wrestling star, but as for the Argentino family, there is now little hope that they will ever know what happened on the night Nancy Argentino was ripped from their lives forever.