February 3, 2018

USA: Natalie Wood's 1981 Drowning Now Considered A 'Suspicious Death'. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept Reopened The Investigation, Naming Her Then-Husband Person Of Interest. πŸ‘


USA Today
written by Maeve McDermott
Friday February 2, 2018

Thirty-six years after Natalie Wood's mysterious drowning death, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has reopened the investigation, labeling her death "suspicious" and naming her then-husband, Robert Wagner, a person of interest in the case.

CBS reported the new detail Thursday as part of its upcoming 48 Hours report Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET/PT).

Wood, the 43-year-old Oscar-nominated star of films such as Splendor in the Grass and West Side Story, drowned off the coast of Catalina Island in California the night of Nov. 29, 1981, after taking her family yacht, Splendour, out with Wagner and her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken. Boat captain Dennis Davern was also on board.

The next day, she was found floating in the water, wearing a flannel nightgown, socks and a red down jacket, and Davern identified her body for authorities, according to an autopsy report. Her body had superficial bruises, according to the report, but those were considered consistent with drowning.


Her death was ruled an accident in 1981, but the sheriff's department reopened the case in 2011, ultimately changing the cause of death on her death certificate from an accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors" in 2012.

But following the CBS report, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said new witnesses interviewed since the case was reopened gave statements that “portray a new sequence of events on the boat that night.”

One of the witnesses described hearing yelling and crashing sounds coming from the couple’s stateroom, she said. Shortly after that, separate witnesses heard a man and woman arguing on the back of the boat and believe the voices were those of Wood and Wagner, Nishida said.

The statements differed from the original version of events provided by witnesses, including those who were on the boat, she said.

The sheriff’s department said Wagner is considered a person of interest.

“Do we have enough to make an arrest at this moment? No,” Nishida said.

Investigators have said Wagner has not been interviewed since the probe was reopened. They said in 2013 that they had tried at least 10 times to interview him but he refused.

Wagner has denied any involvement in his wife’s death and no charges have been filed. His publicist, Alan Nierob, declined to comment Thursday.


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