Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka: WWE veteran charged with girlfriend's murder 32 years after she died in mysterious circumstances

Grand jury concludes 72-year-old caused bruising and other injuries that led to death of Nancy Argentino

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The Independent Online

More than three decades after wrestling legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s girlfriend died in mysterious circumstances the WWE (formerly WWF) veteran has been charged with her murder.

Police arrested Snuka, whose real name is James Wiley Smith Reiher, after a grand jury concluded that the 72-year-old had caused bruising and other injuries that led to the death of his then girlfriend Nancy Argentino.

Snuka repeatedly assaulted her on 10 May 1983, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin told a press conference on Tuesday.

Then he allowed her to lie on their bed at the George Washington Motor Lodge in Pennsylvania’s Whitehall Township, “without obtaining the necessary medical attention,” Martin added.

 

 

 

He said that Argentino, who was just 23 when she died, had a multitude to face, scalp and body bruises and abrasions that were consistent with domestic abuse.

Snuka was named a “person of interest” by police at the time but no criminal charges were filed at the time and the case remained open. 

Just five months after Argentino was buried, Snuka, who was known for his high flying finishing moves, soared from the top of a 15-foot steel cage onto “Magnificent” Don Muraco.

In 1985, the Argentino family won a $500,000 wrongful death lawsuit against Snuka, but he claimed he never paid, claiming he couldn’t afford it.  

Yet, 11 years later, in 1996, after a career that spanned over 50-years, he was inducted into wrestling’s Hall of Fame.    

Claiming the incident had ruined his life, Snuka maintained his innocence in his 2012 autobiography.

"Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true," he wrote.

"This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her."

But prosecutors said he had a history of allegedly beating Argentino, including one incident four months before she died.   

"In that case it was alleged that Mr Snuka had been seen dragging Miss Argentino by her hair down a hall," said Martin. "According to testimony it took several sheriff's deputies to get Mr Snuka under control."

It was a never before seen autopsy reported that labelled her death a homicide, which partly prompted the reopening of the case last year. It came to light during an investigation by The Morning Call newspaper.  

After he was arrested at his home in New Jersey’s Waterford Township, Snuka was charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Witnesses said he looked frail as he was fingerprinted, before he posted 10 per cent of the $100,000 bail set in Lehigh County Court.

His bail was left at that level since he is battling a terminal illness, Martin said, adding that he didn't want taxpayers to have to foot Snuka's medical bill.

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