By: Kristen Hegel
As of Thursday, the investigation of the Hollywood movie star’s death, Natalie Wood, has been reopened. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office is now looking into the actress’ death, which occurred in 1981 when she apparently drowned during a boating accident by Catalina Island on the California coast.
New evidence in the case has led homicide investigators to reopen the 30-year-old case. Requests from the actress’s sister, Lana Wood, and the captain of the yacht on which Natalie was on the night of her death, sparked detectives to take a deeper look into what happened on that fateful night. Natalie’s body was found floating in the Pacific Ocean a mile away from the yacht. According to reports, she was wearing a nightgown, socks and a jacket. “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,” Lana said.
The autopsy revealed that she had over 20 bruises on her body and an abrasion on her face. At the time, the coroner’s office ruled Natalie’s death an accident, but others have contradicting stories. It is believed that on the night of her death, she and her husband, Robert Wagner, got into an argument before she drowned. According to Wagner, Natalie stormed off angrily. After some time had passed, he went to check on her, but she wasn’t in their room. Wagner and the captain of the yacht, Dennis Davern, searched the boat, but she was no where to be found. Apparently, it was assumed that she had gone to shore by herself, but after radioing to shore, they found that no one had seen her or heard from her.
Davern, the former captain of the yacht, revealed his account of what happened that night in his book, Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour. In his book he explains the events leading up to Natalie’s drowning, including details of the fight between Natalie and Wagner. In a 2010 interview, Davern stated that he believes the investigation of Natalie’s death was corrupt and hinted that there was a “cover-up” involved. He also stated that he regrets keeping quiet by Wagner’s request and misleading detectives.
Wagner’s publicist, Alan Nierob, released a statement saying that the actor’s family “fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and trust[s that] 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.”
“I just want the truth to come out, the real story,” Lana said. It remains to be seen if any charges will be made in the case of Natalie Wood’s death. Investigators are urging anyone with information about what occurred that night to come forward.