Authorities Reopen Natalie Wood Death Case

November 18, 2011 By:
Authorities Reopen Natalie Wood Death Case

In 1981, while on a yacht with her husband, Robert Wagner, and their fellow actor/friend, Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood tragically lost her life.

Up until this week, her death was ruled an accidental drowning. The actress' body was found floating in the water about a mile away from the yacht. According to police reports, Wood was found wearing a long nightgown, socks and a down jacket. Her autopsy report showed two dozen bruises on her body, and there was a facial abrasion on her left cheek, as well as bruises on her arm.

But the former captain of the yacht, as well as Natalie's sister, don’t buy it. And it's perhaps because of the captain's accounts that LAPD has reopened the case.

Dennis Davern was the captain on duty of the yacht Splendour, and he published Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour in 2009. In the book, Davern says he believes Natalie's death was a direct result of her fight with Wagner.

At the time, Walken and Wood were filming the movie, Brainstorm and, in Hollywood, rumors surfaced that Wagner was jealous of their screen time. While they were on the yacht, Wagner and Wood got into a fight, according to Davern. The captain says:

"They'd moved their fight outside ... you could tell from their animated gestures they were still arguing."

But Davern turned up some music, as he was "embarrassed" for them. He then heard some thumping noises. Shortly after that Wagner approached Davern and said he couldn’t find his wife. Davern searched the boat, but couldn’t find her, either. He claims Wagner said she probably took the dinghy and left.

Davern now admits that he lied to police about what happened and blames Wagner for Natalie's drowning.

Wagner's publicist issued a statement saying the actor's family "fully support the efforts of the LA 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."

Los Angeles County Sheriff spokesman, Steven Whitmore, said the reopening of the investigation was due to new information on Natalie's drowning. But even after holding a press conference, it wasn't revealed exactly what that new information is.

Lana Wood, Natalie's sister, said: "My sister was not a swimmer and did not know how to swim, and she would never go to another boat or to shore dressed in a nightgown and socks." Last year, Lana said: "I just want the truth to come out, the real story."

At a news conference on Friday, an LAPD official said that Wagner is not a suspect in the case.