by Irvin Muchnick
The Cherry Hill Courier-Post now has a longer version of its Jimmy Snuka-Nancy Argentino story online at http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20130718/SPORTS/307180052/-Superfly-Snuka-case-reopened-by-Lehigh-County-D-, and this version does address our criticism of Detective Gerry Procacyn:
“[Lehigh County deputy district attorney Charles] Gallagher will work the [Jimmy Snuka] case with help from Lehigh County Det. Gerry Procanyn, who was a Whitehall detective leading the initial investigation into Nancy Argentino’s death.
‘Procanyn knows the case better than anyone who’s still alive and he’s probably one of the most tenacious investigators I’ve met,’ [D.A.] Martin said. ‘So as far as I’m concerned, the sisters’ complaints and Muchnick’s (e-book) observations are unfounded.’”
To this I would simply say that my 1992 reporting showed that the only thing Procacyn was tenacious about was attempting to snow me. Here’s what I wrote then, and the primary-source documents in our new ebook back this up:
Gerald Procanyn, the current supervisor of detectives, who worked on the case nine years ago, maintained that Snuka cooperated fully with investigators after being informed of his right to have a lawyer present, and was accompanied only by McMahon. Another investigator, however, saw things differently; he said Snuka invoked his naïve jungle-boy wrestler’s gimmick as a way of playing dumb. “I’ve seen that trick before,” the investigator said. “He was letting McMahon act as his mouthpiece.”
Detective Procanyn gave me the following summary of Snuka’s story: On the afternoon before she died, Snuka and his girlfriend were driving his purple Lincoln Continental from Connecticut to Allentown for the WWF taping. They’d been drinking, and they stopped by the side of the road – the spot was never determined, but perhaps it was near the intersection of Routes 22 and 33 – to relieve their bladders. In the process, Argentino slipped on mossy ground near a guard rail and struck the back of her head. Thinking nothing of it, she proceeded to drive the car the rest of the way to the motel (Snuka didn’t have a driver’s license) and, after they checked in, picked up take-out food at the nearby City View Diner. Snuka had no idea she was in any kind of distress until he returned late that night from the matches at the Agricultural Hall. Procanyn said Snuka’s story never wavered, and no contradictory evidence was found.
Curiously, contemporary news coverage, such as the front page of the next day’s Allentown Morning Call, made no mention of a scenario of peeing by the roadside; it focused, instead, on the question of whether Argentino fell or was pushed in the motel room. Nine years later the reporter, Tim Blangger, vividly recalled that at one point in his interview of Procanyn, the detective grabbed him by the shoulders in a speculative reenactment of how Snuka might have shoved the woman more strongly than he intended.
Procacyn also claimed to have no knowledge of any subsequent action by the Argentino family, except for a few communications between a lawyer and D.A. Platt over settling the funeral bill. In fact, the Argentinos commissioned two separate private investigations, and it’s difficult to believe that Procanyn was unaware of them.
Through the generosity of Nancy Argentino’s father’s boss, the family then retained a Park Avenue law firm. The report filed by its private investigator shows that Snuka was as creative outside the ring as he was inside it.
To the Whitehall police officer who responded to the first emergency call, Snuka said “he and Nancy were fooling around outside the motel room door when he inadvertently pushed Nancy and she fell striking her head.”
An emergency room nurse heard him state that “they were very tired and they got into an argument resulting in an accidental pushing incident. Ms. Argentino fell back and hit her head.”
In the official police interrogation, Snuka first floated the peed-on-the-roadside theory.
Finally, in a meeting with the hospital chaplain, he said he and Argentino had been stopped by the side of the road and had a lovers’ quarrel: “He accidentally shoved Ms. Argentino who then fell backwards hitting her head on the pavement. They then arrived at the motel and went to bed. The next morning Ms. Argentino complained that she was ill and stayed in bed…. When he came home from the taping, he observed that Ms. Argentino was clearly in bad shape.”
JUSTICE DENIED: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s Motel Room includes never-before-published photos and documents. It can be purchased for $2.99 at http://amzn.com/B00CPTP6VM. Readers without Amazon Kindle-compatible devices can get a PDF file copy by sending $2.99, via PayPal, to firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds benefit the My Sister’s Place women’s shelter and resource center in White Plains, New York.