‘Irv Muchnick Looks at the Grand Jury Looking at the Snuka Case’ (full text from WrestlingObserver.com)

Published January 31st, 2014, Uncategorized

The essay below was published Wednesday at http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/96-wwe/35192-irv-muchnick-looks-at-the-grand-jury-looking-at-the-snuka-case.

My piece, “What might happen (probably should happen) in grand jury homicide investigation of Jimmy Snuka,” is scheduled to be published Monday at the wrestling news site SLAM! Wrestling (http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/).

 

By Irvin Muchnick

The district attorney of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, is calling the Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka case the longest-dormant homicide investigation ever referred to a grand jury there. D.A. James Martin yesterday acknowledged the tireless advocacy of the two surviving sisters of Nancy Argentino, Snuka’s 1983 road girlfriend, in persuading Martin to take this course.

Nearly 31 years have elapsed since the fatal event. It is 22 years since I first began digging for the truth. And it’s seven months since Allentown Morning Call enterprise reporters Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman unearthed two buried reports — one on Nancy’s autopsy, the other on Snuka’s initial police interrogation — that made official stonewalling no longer an option.

Sisters Louise and Lorraine (and I) got numerous messages of congratulations yesterday. We also, unfortunately, got one ignorant fan’s effort to change the subject. The guy tweeted: “gotta love how a rumor gets outta hand now leads to this after what almost 30 years later?”

This question is what is known as baloney on steroids. Sorry, but the “rumor” is something else: a wild fabrication, circulating on Internet forums for years, that Nancy’s cranial injuries were the result of a leap from the balcony of Room 427 of the old George Washington Motor Lodge in Whitehall.

Another “rumor” was that she struck her head peeing by the roadside on an automobile stop en route to Allentown for Snuka’s appearance on the then-WWF television tapings.

Contradicting these rumors are facts. One fact is that it was Snuka who floated the peed-by-the-roadside theory; and over the course of the morning of Nancy’s death, in a desperate and confused attempt to explain what had happened, the Superfly was spinning more tales than Scheherazade. On my 1992 reporting trip for the Village Voice, Whitehall Detective Gerry Procanyn would lie to me about Snuka’s inability to confine his own dissembling to a single version. But if you didn’t want to ask Procanyn, you could ask the hospital nurses. Or the orderlies. Or the chaplain.

As so often happens with celebrity suspects and nobody victims, Snuka skated accountability at the time. But not before Vince McMahon rushed back down from Connecticut, carrying a briefcase (as Snuka himself would describe the scene, without evident self-awareness, in his 2012 autobiography).

Today there’s at least a chance that justice denied will get upgraded to justice delayed. A key to the grand jury’s consideration will be the extreme implausibility of a peed-by-the-roadside scenario. At the time, the Whitehall police apparently didn’t even go to the trouble of trying to locate the spot. Nor was any dirt or bramble found on Nancy’s clothes.

Finally, there’s the issue of how Nancy could have proceeded to drive Snuka and herself into town after getting knocked cold on a guard rail or the pavement, then being slapped back to consciousness by him (this according to Version 3.27 of his account).

(With the gratuitous additive that often seems to accompany lies, Detective Procanyn in ’92 told me that Nancy and Snuka even stopped off at the City View Diner for takeout food before checking into the motel — a detail I’ve neither heard nor read anywhere since.)

Even though the bigfoots at the Tribune Company are not reciprocal in dishing credit, I salute the Morning Call’s Clark and Amerman for the local coverage and pressure that were critical in reopening the case. Praise is due, as well, to Randy Miller, then of the South Jersey Courier-Post, whose article last spring put heat on Snuka in his home community of Cherry Hill.

Those of you interested in the full history of pro wrestling’s Chappaquiddick should buy the ebook, JUSTICE DENIED: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s Motel Room, which I put together on the 30th anniversary with the help of Nancy’s sisters. Readers without Kindle-compatible devices can order an email PDF attachment by remitting $2.99, via PayPal, to nancyargentino@gmail.com. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the My Sisters’ Place women’s shelter and resource center.