Grand jury looking into the 1983 cold-case death of Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka's girlfriend

Jay Busbee
January 28, 2014
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On May 10, 1983, Nancy L. Argentino was rushed from an Allentown, Pa., hotel room to a nearby hospital having sustained a severe, and eventually mortal, head injury. The 23-year-old Argentino was the girlfriend of famed wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, who was with her when she sustained the injury. Police initially fingered Snuka as a "person of interest" in Argentino's death, but no charges were ever filed and the case went cold on June 1, 1983.

Now, almost 31 years later, a Lehigh County grand jury will investigate whether Argentino's death should be classified as a homicide, according to The Morning Call.

Last June, The Morning Call reported that Lehigh County district attorney Jim Martin was taking a new look at the cold case. On Tuesday, Martin announced that he will indeed turn the case over to a grand jury.

"I think it's important to have a grand jury take a look at it and we'll see what they think," Martin told The Morning Call Tuesday.

Following Argentino's death, Snuka told at least five people, including the police officer who responded to his distress call, that he had shoved Argentino and she had hit her head, according to The Morning Call report. However, he later said he had been misunderstood, and that Argentino had slipped and fallen when they stopped to relieve themselves along the side of a highway after a World Wrestling Federation event at the Allentown Fairgrounds.

A never-released autopsy indicated that Argentino had suffered injuries all over her body consistent with what forensic pathologists term "mate abuse," according to The Morning Call. Her death was caused when her head struck a stationary object, although that was not the only injury. Indeed, the pathologist who reviewed the autopsy at the time recommended that the case should be investigated as a homicide.

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Snuka would go on to become one of professional wrestling's biggest stars and was eventually inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. In 1985 Argentino's family won a $500,000 civil lawsuit against Snuka, but he claimed that he was unable to pay and has not done so since.

Snuka, now 70 and living in New Jersey, has maintained his innocence, saying in his 2012 autobiography that the rumors about Argentino's death ruined his life. Last June, The Morning Call published a comprehensive article assessing the case 30 years on, and Martin noted that publicity from that article helped spur the renewed grand jury investigation.

Most charges carry a five-year statute of limitations, Martin noted, but there is no statute of limitations on homicide, whether premeditated or accidental. Martin declined to comment to The Morning Call on whether Snuka is the focus of the investigation.

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Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.