Time caught up to Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka this week, as more than 30 years after the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Snuka has been charged with her murder.
On Tuesday, Snuka turned himself in to Lehigh County, PA, police officials to face charges of third-degree murder, which essentially means killing with malice. The charges carry a possible 40 years in prison, according to the Morning Call of Allentown, PA, which had aggressively reported on the strange circumstances of this case within recent years, which eventually led to a grand jury re-examining the facts.
Snuka had long maintained his innocence in the death of Nancy Argentino, who died on May 11, 1983, during the height of Snuka’s popularity with the WWF. Authorities never charged Snuka, and wrestling journalist Irv Muchnick and others implied that an alleged cover-up may have occurred because Vince McMahon himself had reportedly talked to police about the incident.
I don’t know one way or the other about a cover-up, but I do remember growing up in the 1980s — even before I was smart to the insider workings of wrestling — that there was a persistent rumor that Snuka had killed a woman.
Snuka appears to have hung himself with the latest grand jury, which looked closely at his various explanations for what happened to Argentino, including recent versions in his autobiography and at least one podcast that differed from accounts he told police and medical workers in 1983.
Snuka, now 72 and suffering from stomach cancer, appeared before the grand jury but chose not to testify.
Snuka was one of my favorites growing up. He had memorable angles and feuds with Captain Lou Albano, Magnificent Muraco, and the late Rowdy Roddy Piper. Yet outside the ring it sounds like he was a coked-up wrestler who got too rough with his girlfriend and then allegedly let her die of injuries rather than get immediate medical help.
With the recent deaths of Piper and Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan’s downfall for using racist language, and now the charges against Snuka, it makes it hard to swallow all those good times watching these wrestlers as I grew up.
I don’t want to equate Argentino’s death with the passing of old wrestlers or Hogan’s ridiculous comments. But I do feel as these wrestlers die or get into trouble for their past behavior, that my own nostalgia for the 1980s WWF scene is slipping away.