Snuka, who in 1983 was one of the WWE’s (then known as the WWF) biggest stars, avoided charges for 32 years after the case went cold in June 1983, but after the Morning Call initiated an investigation and unearthed the autopsy report that ruled the death a homicide, the Lehigh Valley police reopened the case last year.
“I think that it’s been a long road,” Argentino’s sister Louise Argentino-Upham told the Morning Call on Tuesday. “They did the right thing in face of all the evidence.”
WWE, meanwhile, is remaining neutral on the matter, neither defending Snuka nor scrubbing him from its Web site, as the promotion did for Hulk Hogan in July when he admitted to saying racist remarks on tape.
Instead, in a statement to The Washington Post, the company said: “WWE expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately this legal matter will be decided by our judicial system.”
According to police records from 1983 obtained by the Morning Call, Snuka had said at the time that upon returning from a wrestling event, he found his girlfriend in their hotel room unable to properly breath.
Per the Morning Call:
Argentino was pronounced dead at Lehigh Valley Hospital the next day. An autopsy determined she died of traumatic brain injuries and she suffered more than two dozen cuts and bruises — a possible sign of “mate abuse” — on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.The autopsy also determined her injuries were consistent with being hit with a stationary object. In an autopsy report, forensic pathologist Isidore Mihalakis wrote that the case should be investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise.
Snuka told two different stories at the time, according to the Morning Call. He first told police that he had shoved Argentino earlier that day, which caused her to tumble and strike her head. He later changed his story and told police that Argentino had slipped and hit her head while the two stopped to go to the bathroom on the side of a highway.
Snuka, who last month revealed he is suffering from stomach cancer, has since maintained his innocence. He event talked about Argentino’s death in his 2012 autobiography “Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story,” the Morning Call reports.
“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.”
Snuka, whose daughter Tamina currently wrestles with WWE, is currently being held in a county jail on a $100,000 bond.