With the permission of publisher Bryan Alvarez, we reprint the coverage of the Jimmy Snuka homicide investigation in the current issue of the pro wrestling newsletter Figure Four Weekly:
The Morning Call newspaper in Pennsylvania reported on Tuesday morning that a grand jury would be investigating Jimmy Snuka’s possible role in the death of his “road girlfriend” Nancy Argentino in 1983. Argentino died from head injuries that the coroner ruled was likely from a fall, and there were also long-term signs of physical abuse. The case quickly fizzled out, even though Snuka had been arrested in upstate New York for assaulting her three months earlier in a case that got a fair bit of local publicity. Argentino’s family eventually hired a private investigator and sued Snuka for wrongful death, receiving a default judgment in the process. By that point, though, he had blown his money, moved back to Hawaii, and barely made a living for the local promotion, which didn’t run anything close to a full-time schedule.
It was an unpublished 1992 article about by Irv Muchnick commissioned by the Village Voice that kept the story of Argentino’s death alive for the last 15 years, first on his website and later in his book, “Wrestling Babylon.” He befriended the Argentino family, and they worked together on an e-book, “Justice Denied,” to benefit a battered women’s charity and try to get the case re-examined after being outraged by Snuka’s account in his book. Two local newspapers, including the Morning Call, were also working on feature articles about the case. All three came out around the 30th anniversary of Nancy’s death.
As bad as Snuka looked before, he came off more guilty than ever after the release of the articles and e-book. It was long believed that the coroner didn’t rule on matter of death (whether it was an accident, suicide, homicide, etc.), but the previously unseen autopsy report ruled that it should be treated as a homicide pending investigation. The transcript of Snuka’s full initial police interview was released, documenting how he changed his story from shoving Argentino during some ill-defined horseplay to her slipping and falling when urinating at the side of the road. “Justice Denied” paints an even more twisted picture of Snuka at the time, with the Argentino family claiming that when he went to view Nancy at the wake, he talked extensively to her as if she was alive and then “kissed her passionately,” messing up the restoration makeup. When he left, he casually remarked “She looks terrible” to Nancy’s mother.
Thanks to Alvarez and to writer David Bixenspan, his new hire and the author of this piece. Bixenspan has been a friend of mine for several years — beginning with his somewhat critical, but fair, review of CHRIS & NANCY, my book on the 2007 Chris Benoit double murder-suicide in Georgia.
Figure Four Weekly is the online and audio content partner of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter (http://www.f4wonline.com/).
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 email@example.com. All proceeds benefit the My Sisters’ Place women’s shelter and resource center in White Plains, New York.