Robert Wagner Not a Suspect in Natalie Wood’s Death

Nov 17, 2011 9:36pm
gty natalie wood 2 dm 111118 wblog Robert Wagner Not a Suspect in Natalie Woods Death

Natalie Wood.

While homicide investigators re-examine the circumstances of Natalie Wood’s 1981 death, they plan to reach out to her then-husband, actor Robert Wagner.

But when asked at a news conference today whether Wagner is a suspect, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said, “No.”

Corina told reporters that “several sources have come forward with additional information” regarding the Hollywood actress’ death “and we have found it to be credible,” which led his team to re-open the 30-year-old case.

He said that Wood’s official cause of death remains accidental drowning.  ”Her death was ruled as accidental drowning and that’s what it is, until we find something that says it isn’t,” Corina said.

Cornia declined to reveal who came forward with information. This morning, Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht on which Wood sailed the night she died, said that he believes that Wagner is to blame for her death.

“Yes I would say so,” boat captain Dennis Davern told NBC’s “Today” when asked if Wagner was responsible. He admitted that he may have been at fault as well, saying, “We didn’t take any steps to see if we could locate her. It was a matter of don’t look too hard, don’t turn on search light, don’t call anyone.”

Davern also said that he lied to officials in the initial police report. Corina declined to comment on whether  Davern could face charges if that’s true.

Davern co-authored the 2009 book “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,” about the circumstances surrounding the actress’ death. He and Lana Wood, Natalie Wood’s sister, asked authorities to reopen the case last year.

Wood was boating with Wagner and the actor Christopher Walken off Catalina Island, Calif., on the night she died, Nov. 29, 1981. She was 43.

Wood’s body was found floating in the water about a mile away from the yacht. According to police reports, she was found wearing a long nightgown, socks, and a down jacket. She had dozens of bruises on her body, according to the autopsy report, including injuries to her face and arms.

Wood appeared in more than 56 films, including “West Side Story.” She notably played James Dean’s love interest in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

She was married to Wagner twice. They married in 1957, divorced about five years later and remarried in 1972.

Her death has been a long-running mystery in Hollywood. Wagner and Walken, who was filming “Brainstorm” with Wood at the time, reportedly got into an alcohol-fueled argument prior to her death. Wood is believed to have gone into the master cabin bathroom while they were arguing, but as Wagner was going to bed, he noticed Wood wasn’t there.

“It is believed that the dinghy had gotten loose and Wood came up on deck to tie it up,” when she fell and drowned, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Wood’s aversion to water was famous. She couldn’t swim and once said in a TV interview that her greatest fear was of dark seawater.

The investigation has the support of the Wagner family.

“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 L.A. 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,” Robert Wagner’s publicist Alan Nierob said in a statement.

Representatives for Walken did not immediately respond to ABCNews.com’s requests for comment.

According to an exclusive report from The Hollywood Reporter, Walken has hired lawyer Mathew Rosengart, an ex-federal prosecutor, to represent him. Walken is not considered a suspect, according to Hollywood Reporter sources.

 

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