Sheriff's Spokesman Can't Seem to Get It Straight: Is the Natalie Wood Case Open or Not?
Lately, we haven't been hearing much about the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department investigation into Natalie Wood's drowning death off the coast of Catalina, which was reopened with great fanfare last November.That is until yesterday when someone from Access Hollywood asked the Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore about whatever happened to that Natalie Wood case. AccessHollywood.com first reported that Whitmore said the investigation was "now in the LASD cold case file and not going anywhere." Later that same day Whitmore told Access Hollywood it actually is "open and they are working on it." The article does not explain why the department gave two totally contradictory statements in one day.
But it's worth noting that the department's motivation for reopening the case have been murky from the get-go. The sheriff's department has said that the case was reopened in part because of a media blitz by author Marti Rulli and Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht Wood was on before she mysteriously drowned. Together the pair co-wrote "Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour," which was published two years ago. Around the 30th anniversary of Wood's death last November, "48 Hours" did a segment on Davern's statements produced in conjunction with Vanity Fair. At the time that the sheriff's department reopened the case it said that it still considered her death accidental, but offered few more details about the reasons it was opening the cold case.
Back in November when the case was reopened, the Los Angeles Times editorial writers put forth their own theory:
The mystery is why the Sheriff's Department is reopening the case at all. And maybe we can solve that one. Not only is the 30th anniversary of Wood's death approaching — along with magazine and TV coverage — but the new investigation comes at a time when Sheriff Lee Baca has reason to want to change the subject from himself. He faces a federal probe into allegations of brutality and misconduct by deputies in the county jails. Federal authorities have also launched a civil rights investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by sheriff's deputies in the Antelope Valley.
At the time, everyone seemed to have their own theory about why the case was reopened. We got quite a few bizarre e-mails (the Enquirer had its own theory, but it wouldn't publish it). The hubbub around the 30th anniversary of Wood's death has died down, but still the sheriff's department isn't putting out a totally straight answer.