UPDATE: A judge has dismissed homicide charges against wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
Wrestling legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka has been charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 1983 death of his girlfriend in an Allentown, Pennsylvania motel.
Snuka, 72, was arrested Tuesday morning in his New Jersey home and is currently in Lehigh County jail under $100,000 bond, according to Allentown’s The Morning Call. The case involving the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, was reopened last year and turned over to a grand jury, after a Morning Call story revealed a never-before-seen autopsy report that labeled it a homicide.
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced the charges against Snuka in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, telling reporters that the grand jury had determined Snuka repeatedly assaulted Argentino in the motel room and didn’t take her to the hospital.
According to reports, Snuka – a high-flying star of Vince McMahon’s then-WWF, and a 1996 WWE Hall of Fame inductee – had attended a WWF TV taping at the Allentown Fairgrounds on May 10, 1983 and returned to his motel room to find Argentino “gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose.” She was taken to nearby Lehigh Valley Hospital, where she was pronounced dead the following day.
An autopsy determined she died of traumatic injuries and suffered dozens of cuts and bruises – injuries consistent with being hit with a stationary object. In the report, a forensic pathologist wrote that the case should be investigated as a homicide. According to interviews obtained by The Morning Call, Snuka had originally told at least five people, including the responding police officer, that he had shoved Argentino earlier in the day, causing her to fall and hit her head. He later amended his story, saying that Argentino slipped and hit her head when the couple stopped along the side of the road to urinate.
Snuka was the sole person of interest in the case but was never charged, and the investigation reportedly went cold a few weeks later, after a follow-up interview with the wrestler. In 1985, Argentino’s family won a $500,000 wrongful death case against Snuka by default, though he never paid, claiming he couldn’t afford a legal defense.
Earlier this year, Snuka’s wife announced he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. His daughter, Sarona, currently wrestles with WWE as Tamina Snuka. In a statement Tuesday, WWE said it “expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately this legal matter will be decided by our judicial system.”