District Attorney’s shutout of cold case consultant deepens suspicion that “fresh look” at Jimmy Snuka homicide investigation is phony
· “How we will know if Snuka investigation is serious,” July 1, http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/96-wwe/32017-irv-muchnick-how-we-will-know-if-snuka-investigation-is-serious
· “Who was driving Jimmy Snuka’s car? Intriguing cold-case question,” July 22,
by Irvin Muchnick
The deputy district attorney who is directing Lehigh County’s “fresh look” at the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s motel room spoke three months ago with an independent crime-solving consultant but failed to follow up on the contact.
This is the latest information casting doubt on the claim of district attorney James B. Martin that his office is undertaking in good faith a thorough review of the 30-year-long cold case. The publication of my ebook Justice Denied, along with front-page stories in the Allentown Morning Call and in Snuka’s hometown newspaper, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, spurred Martin to agree to a “fresh look,” which Argentino’s sisters were told would take place over the summer.
Yet nothing has transpired since then. In response to my queries, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, Debbie Garlicki, said, “We do not comment on pending investigations. When the matter is concluded, an appropriate comment will be made.”
In July, however, DA Martin did make substantive comments, and those were arguably prejudicial. He called “ridiculous and unfounded” my allegations that Whitehall police detective Gerry Procanyn – now a county investigator still involved in the “fresh look” – lied in 1992 about key aspects of the case. Martin defended Procanyn, whom he called a “tenacious” investigator. It is my contention that Martin’s failure to have Procanyn step aside shows that the “fresh look” is more a manufactured response to the new publicity, which embarrasses local law enforcement, than it is a genuine effort to get at the truth of why Snuka was not indicted for, at minimum, involuntary manslaughter.
Martin also made a point of creating very low expectations for the “fresh look.”
Martin did ask his deputy, Charles F. Gallagher III, to revisit the Snuka file. One of the Argentino sisters spoke with Gallagher and suggested that he enlist the services of the Vidocq Society, a private non-profit group in Philadelphia that donates support to police in long-unsolved murder cases.
The Society’s website is http://www.vidocq.org/. The organization’s mission is to focus on questionable deaths. With time donated from private citizens, many of whom have law enforcement backgrounds or are forensics professionals, they have an excellent record of successes in solving cold cases.
According to the sister, Gallagher said he knew of the Vidocq Society, thought very highly of it, and had worked with it when he was a district attorney in Philadelphia. The sister then arranged for William F. Gill III, case manager of the Society, to speak with Gallagher by phone on August 11.
Gill this week told us that Gallagher “stated he would have to speak to the District Attorney regarding making a presentation. He has not contacted me as of this date.”
Gill added, “The Society does not conduct independent investigations and only acts as a consultant when invited by the applicable law enforcement authority. Until that happens we can take no action.” If Gallagher wants to engage the Vidocq Society, he must take the next step, Gill said.
Over a period now spanning 30 and a half years, Lehigh County has tried to run out the clock on the Snuka investigation – refusing either to close the file (which would expose its entirety to public inspection and critique) or to move purposefully on obvious investigative angles that were never explored.
It is up to the local media to call out the district attorney on these latest evasions and delays – as the Morning Call so ably did back in June.