Homicide investigators are taking another look in the 1981 drowning death of Robert Wagner’s wife, Hollywood actress Natalie Wood, based on new information received.
The Los Angeles sheriff is unexpectedly reopened the case that had long been classified as a tragic accident as the circumstances found behind the death of Natalie Wood.
Recently, Dennis Davern, the yacht captain has said that he lied to investigators about Natalie Wood’s mysterious death 30 years ago and blames the actress’ husband, Robert Wagner, for her drowning in the ocean off Southern California.
Wood drowned after spending several hours drinking on Catalina Island in a yacht with Wagner, fellow actor Christopher Walken and the ship’s captain, Dennis Davern.
Davern, told NBC’s “Today” show that he made mistakes by not telling the truth about events leading to the death and had urged Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide investigators to reopen the case.
Davern said he believes Wagner intentionally kept the investigation into Wood’s death low profile and didn’t do everything he could have done.
In the Vanity Fair story, Davern is quoted as saying that Wood and Wagner fought in their cabin before the actress disappeared. Coroner’s officials ruled her death an accidental drowning, perhaps caused by her slipping off the boat while trying to tie down a dinghy.
She was found wearing a flannel nightgown, socks and a 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 sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved, but Wagner and Wood’s sister have dismissed any suggestion the actress’ death was anything more than an accident.
Coroner’s officials at the time agreed, writing that Wood was “possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.”
Lana Wood wrote in a biography on her sister, “What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night.”
Wagner, star of the television series “Hart to Hart,” wrote in a 2008 autobiography that he blamed himself for his wife’s death.
He recounted the night of Wood’s disappearance, during which the couple and Walken drank at a restaurant and on the boat. Wood went to the master cabin during an argument between her husband and Walken.
The last time Wagner saw his wife, she was fixing her hair at a bathroom vanity and she shut the door.
Wagner wrote that despite various theories about what led Wood to the water, which she feared, it was impossible to know what exactly happened.