Former pro wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka died Sunday, 12 days after a Pennsylvania judge dismissed a murder case against him in the 1983 death of his girlfriend. He was 73.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) January 15, 2017
Snuka’s death was announced on Twitter by fellow wrestling legend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. WWE broadcaster Jim Ross tweeted that Snuka had been battling stomach cancer.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka who died earlier today after losing his fight with stomach cancer. RIP????
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) January 15, 2017
Snuka’s daughter, Tamina — also a wrestler — posted a photo on Instagram Sunday of her hand grasping her father’s with the caption “I LOVE YOU DAD.”
Attorney Robert Kirwan II told the Associated Press that Snuka was taken Sunday to his son-in-law’s home near Pompano Beach, Fla. so that he could spend his last moments there. The family informed him shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday that Snuka had died, Kirwan said.
Lehigh County Judge Kelly Banach on Jan. 3 dismissed the murder case against the retired WWE star after the defense said he had dementia, was in hospice care in Florida and had six months to live.
Snuka was charged in 2015 with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Nancy Argentino, whose body was found more than three decades earlier in their Whitehall Township, Pa. hotel room. Prosecutors allege she was beaten, while Snuka maintained she died from a fall.
Authorities reopened the investigation after The Morning Call newspaper raised questions about the case in 2013.
Banach had first ruled last summer that Snuka was not competent to stand trial after his attorney argued the ex-athlete suffers from dementia, partly due to the head trauma sustained over a long career in the ring. Prosecutors countered that Snuka’s brain shows normal signs of aging and suggested he might be feigning symptoms.
At a hearing last month to re-evaluate Snuka’s mental fitness, Snuka’s wife told the judge that the family struggles to keep him from leaving home during bouts of psychosis in which he thinks he’s late for a wrestling match. Banach then took time to review Snuka’s medical records before ruling.
Kirwan said Snuka died “due to complications from his ongoing medical problems” but did not state what they were specifically.
“The family is simply heartbroken. It’s been a long journey,” he said. “They are grateful to the judge for dismissing the charges against him.”
Kirwan added that he believes his client’s name will eventually be cleared.
Snuka, a native of Fiji who previously lived in Camden County, N.J., was known on the wrestling circuit for diving from the ropes. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.