Natalie Wood Mystery: Captain of Yacht Passes Polygraph Test
The recently reopened case of actress Natalie Wood’s drowning death focuses on new information that may implicate those on board the boat the actress fell from 30 years ago, including the boat’s captain, who has passed a lie detector test.
Dennis Davern, the captain of the Splendour, the yacht which the actors were staying on, said that he heard Wood and husband Robert Wagner arguing moments before she disappeared. Davern has said that he believes Wagner had a role in Wood’s death.
Davern had a lie detector test performed on him by examiner Howard Temple, who says that the results of the polygraph “indicated he was telling the truth.”
In this exclusive interview with “Good Morning America,” Temple said Davern told him that after Wood’s death Wagner instructed him to not speak about the drowning.
“Davern made the statement that he stayed at the Wagner home … [was] told not to talk …Wagner paid for his therapy, and Davern could not leave the estate without bodyguards,” Temple said.
In an NBC interview last week, Davern said ”Yes I would say so,” when asked about Wagner’s responsibility. 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. It is unclear whether he could face charges if that’s true.
Davern’s motives in revealing this new information regarding the night of Wood’s death have been called into question after he co-authored a book about the actress’s death. He and Marti Rulli wrote 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 re-open the case last year.
ABC News has learned that detectives have now interviewed Marilyn Wayne, the boater who was aboard a ship 40 yards away that night in 1981. She claims she heard Wood screaming for help moments before she allegedly drowned off the coast of Catalina Island in California.
“They talked to me about what I remember from the case all those years ago,” Wayne told “Entertainment Tonight.”
Wood, the star of film classics like “West Side Story” and “Rebel Without a Cause,” apparently drowned while boating with Wagner and actor Christopher Walken, with whom she was filming what would be her last role in the movie “Brainstorm.”
The official cause of Wood’s death was determined to be accidental drowning, but because there has been little concrete information about the circumstances surrounding the events of that night, speculation has been rife and the case remains one of Hollywood’s longest-running mysteries.
Lifeguard Roger Smith, who pulled Wood’s body out of the water, has told “Good Morning America” that he believes the actress may have floated alive for hours.
“I could have saved her,” Smith said, adding that he was “not called in time.”
So far Wagner and Walken, the two men with Wood that night, are keeping quiet regarding the reopening of the case.
When gossip website TMZ.com caught up with Walken in West Hollywood Tuesday to ask him what he thinks about the reopening of the case, Walken simply said, “I don’t know.”
Wagner, the now 81-year-old star of the TV series “Hart to Hart,” is still hard at work, making an appearance as a murder suspect on an episode of CBS’ “NCIS” this week.
Wagner was not charged in Wood’s death, and police plan to reach out to him as part of the re-opened investigation. They say he is not a suspect.
With reporting by ABC News’ Abbie Boudreau, Suzan Clarke and Sheila Marikar.