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18-11-2011
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Natalie Wood's 1981 drowning death re-opened
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Three decades on, the death of one of Hollywood's most alluring stars remains one of its most enduring mysteries.

Natalie Wood was found dead at 43 in the waters off Southern California after a night of partying on the yacht she owned with actor husband Robert Wagner.

According to police reports at the time, the body of the West Side Story star - one of the most glamorous actresses of her generation - was found wearing a long nightgown, socks, and a down jacket.

She is believed to have fallen off the yacht 'Splendour' after drinking and dining with her husband and 'Brainstorm' co-star Christopher Walken.

But 'additional information' is now said to have come to light prompting homicide detectives yesterday to re-open their investigation into her death on November 29, 1981.

Ms Wood was pulled from the water in a cove on Catalina Island about a mile away from the yacht.

An autopsy report revealed two dozen bruises on her body, including a facial abrasion on her left cheek, and bruises on her arms.

Ms Wood's drowning sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved, but Mr Wagner and Ms Wood's sister Lana have always dismissed such a suggestion.

But the Los Angeles Times has reported that detectives were prompted to look at the case again after comments by the ship's captain, Dennis Davern.

Mr Davern has said he believes Ms Wood's death is directly connected to an argument she had earlier in the evening with Wagner, during which he smashed a wine bottle.

It is claimed the fight was triggered over Wagner's belief that Walken wanted to sleep with his wife.

Last year, Mr Davern asked investigators, along with Ms Wood's sister, to re-open the case.

The issue was revisited when Mr Davern was recently interviewed for a collaboration between the magazine Vanity Fair and the television series '48 Hours Mystery' that focuses on Ms Wood's death.

The interviews followed his detailed account of the evening in a book co-authored by Marti Rulli entitled, 'Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,' which was published in September, 2009.

In the book they say before Natalie disappeared from the boat, she was drinking and taking Quaaludes, with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.

According to the book, Wagner became enraged when he saw Wood and Walken speaking, and smashed a wine bottle, yelling at Walken: 'What do you want to do, f**k my wife? Is that what you want?'

At that point, Walken returned to his cabin and Natalie and Robert went to their state room. According to the Captain, he heard a loud argument between the couple and thumping sounds, and eventually silence.

A short time later, the Captain went to the deck and was told by Wagner: 'Natalie is missing.'The book claims Wagner refused to let the Captain call the Coast Guard.

Reports also suggest Ms Rulli has been in recent contact with the LA County sheriff's office about re-opening the case.

It comes after Ms Wood's sister told CNN last year she believes an argument between her sister and Mr Wagner preceded the drowning. But she ruled out foul play.

She wrote in a biography on her sister: 'What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night.'

Mr Wagner wrote in a 2009 autobiography, Pieces Of My Heart that he blamed himself for his wife's death.
Going strong: Wagner has starred recently in NCIS: Flesh and Blood

Going strong: Mr Wagner recently starred in NCIS: Flesh And Blood

At the time, her death was ruled an accident and it was determined she had been drinking that night.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office wrote that Wood was 'possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face'.

A dinghy that had been attached to the couple's yacht 'Splendour' was found in a Catalina cove.

Detectives plan to hold a news conference today and anyone with information about the case is being asked to contact sheriff's officials or an anonymous tip line.

Ms Wood, who was born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko to Russian immigrant parents in San Francisco, appeared as a child in such films as the Christmas classic 'Miracle On 34th Street' and 'The Ghost And Mrs. Muir.'

A three-time Oscar nominee famous for roles in classics such as West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause, she was twice married to Wagner.

The couple first wed in 1957 before divorcing six years later. They remarried in 1972.

Questions over the circumstances surrounding Ms Wood's untimely death have lingered for 30 years, and family members have previously asked for authorities to re-examine the original findings.

A spokesman for Wagner, said the family trusts the sheriff's department will take appropriate action but has not been contacted about the case being re-opened.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said in a written statement: 'Recently sheriff's homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning.'

'Due to the additional information, sheriff's homicide bureau has decided to take another look at the case,' the statement said.

A sheriff's spokesman declined to elaborate on the additional information pending a news conference scheduled for today at 2pm EST.

Mr Wagner's spokesman Alan Nierob wrote in a statement: '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 Department 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.'

Phone and email messages to Mr Walken's publicist were not immediately returned. Attempts to contact Mr Davern were unsuccessful.
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Last edited by Dora; 18-11-2011 at 08:41 AM.
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18-11-2011
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This story is so wild! But...*sigh*...I LOVE Natalie Wood. I do believe she could've easily been a star now as well, she's very contemporary.

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18-11-2011
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Beautiful woman, so talented and so many questions around her death and over Wagner's actions on that night and after. I'm glad they're re-examining it.

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18-11-2011
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I'm glad the case is being reopened.

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18-11-2011
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This kind of death cannot be incidental. I always believed she was murdered.

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18-11-2011
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My money is on that he beat the crap out of her and she ended up accidentally falling into the water because she was too drunk (and probably on other stuff like barbiturates). No mystery there.

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18-11-2011
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There are so many unanswered questions over why the harbour master & Coast Guard weren't called earlier, why key witnesses were never interviewed, why, when the coroner began to question things, was he was demoted. She get the bruises all over her, which were apparently consistent with domestic abuse. Its well know she was terrified of deep, dark water, had left the boat the previous nights due to Wagners temper, and didn't know how to work the dinghy. Wagners story has changed over the years in different accounts too, mainly regarding a broken wine bottle. My guess, they fought and she either fell or was pushed. But why, even if it had been accidental, didn't he go after her or raise the alarm sooner? The investigation afterwards was total shoddy too, so many corners cut.


Last edited by littlepaperstars; 18-11-2011 at 03:16 PM.
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18-11-2011
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Not only has Wagner's story changed, but Walken's story has also been contradictory to what people have said he was doing. If TMZ was around in 1981...this would've been a much more thorough investigation. 1981 was still a time when these stars could get away with lots of shady antics.

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18-11-2011
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I think it's interesting all this his coming back up now. I'm glad they reopened the case too, I always knew things didn't add up from that day. I want them to figure it out so she doesn't have to be clumped together with other tragic unsolved hollywood deaths like MM.

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19-11-2011
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Best news I've heard in a long time. I'm a big Natalie Wood fan and I've never believed Wagner's story. I've always had a hunch that foul play was involved.
I hope the truth comes out and justice is served for poor Natalie.


Last edited by Elfinkova; 19-11-2011 at 12:20 AM.
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19-11-2011
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It would make me sooo mad if RW was culpable having the life afterward that he has had, but...

This seems like grandstanding to me at this late date.

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19-11-2011
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Yes. It was always a strange case.

It seems nobody knows why it was reopened. Where did the new information come from? I wonder if this could be related to Christopher Walken's rumoured illness.

It just seems yhey hould have something other than the new book to considerr before reopening.


Last edited by iluvjeisa; 19-11-2011 at 02:32 AM.
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19-11-2011
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Well, the book is over two years old.

I don't think we'll learn anything new unless it comes from Wagner or Walken.

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22-11-2011
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I don't see the rationale for re-opening the case. It's nothing more than a PR move to get the public's attention away from the real issues. Now, I'm not saying someone's suspicious death is not a real issue, or that it wouldn't be great to resolve the case. I'm saying, this investigation will go nowhere and do nothing more than waste the tax-payers' money. I don't know what the statute of limitation in CA is for the lesser degrees of killing, but I'd venture to guess that it's long passed at this point. So, unless they have a real smoking gun that would allow them to charge someone with first degree murder, and from the sound of it, they don't, this is just going to end up being someone's wasteful vanity project.

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01-12-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvjeisa View Post
It seems nobody knows why it was reopened. Where did the new information come from? I wonder if this could be related to Christopher Walken's rumoured illness.
I believe the captain of the boat gave a recent interview, the contents of which prompted police to re-open the investigation. Apparently, the night she disappeared, Natalie was heard arguing with her husband. There was a loud thud and then silence.

Quote:
"I made some terrible decisions and mistakes," Davern told NBC News' David Gregory. "I did lie on a report several years ago."

He added, "I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report."
today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45353418/ns/today-entertainment/t/boat-captain-alleges-actor-robert-wagner-responsible-natalie-woods-death/

Quote:
In the book — “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour” — [author Marti] Rulli and Splendour Captain Dennis Davern write about the night Natalie drowned. They say before Natalie disappeared from the boat, she was drinking and taking Quaaludes with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.

According to the book, Wagner became enraged when he saw Wood and Walken speaking, and smashed a wine bottle, yelling at Walken, “What do you want to do, f**k my wife? Is that what you want?”
At that point, Walken returned to his cabin and Natalie and Robert went to their state room. According to the Captain, he heard a loud argument between the couple and thumping sounds, and eventually silence.
A short time later, the Captain went to the deck and was told by Wagner, “Natalie is missing.”

The book claims Wagner refused to let the Captain call the Coast Guard.
filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2011/11/or-was-it-murder-question-mark

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