Natalie Wood Death Investigation: Is Robert Wagner Responsible for Her Drowning? [UPDATED]
News that actress Natalie Wood's 1981 drowning death case was being reopened sent a shockwave through the newswires last night. Wood, 43, died in the waters off Catalina after a day of boating--and drinking--with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, and their friend, actor Christopher Walken. Classified as an accident, new information could change the course of Hollywood history.Dennis Davern, the captain of the Wagners' yacht, Splendour, has recently admitted he lied to investigators thirty years ago, and what he has said may implicate Robert Wagner.
"I believe that Robert Wagner was with [Wood] up until the moment she went into the water," he says in a new interview. But now, says Davern, it's in the hands of the investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: "I made some terrible decisions, mistakes. It's just going to be left up to the investigators. I did lie on a report years ago," he said on the "Today" show, according to NBCLA.
Wood, Wagner, and Walken had been drinking for several hours aboard the boat. The events, as pieced together in the initial investigation, had Wood slipping and falling into the water while she attempted to get into the dinghy to leave the yacht or she was attempting to adjust its fastening to the side of the boat. Her body was found hours later. Wagner's 2008 autobiography maintains what happened specifically is unknown to everyone, only that she either was trying to leave or secure the dinghy.
"Natalie Wood was wearing a red down jacket when authorities discovered her body 30 years ago ... and her wardrobe could prove she floated alive in dark water for hours while Robert Wagner allegedly stalled rescue efforts," notes TMZ. The author of a new book about Wood's death has published findings that "completely contradicts the opinion of the coroner in the case."
Adds TMZ: "The captain also claimed Wagner instructed the crew to NOT call in the Coast Guard to aid in search and rescue efforts once they realized Natalie had gone missing."
Had the Wagners been arguing prior to Wood going into the water? And to what extent is Wagner responsible for Wood's death? "A fight between Wagner and Wood led to her death, [Davern] said, adding that Wagner tried to make the case a low-profile investigation," according to NBCLA.
Robert Wagner issued a statement last night in support of the investigation:
"Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff’s department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death."
Sheriff Lee Baca says what has come to light was enough to prompt a re-opening of the case. The LASD has not offered any details yet, but will speak with the media at 11 a.m.