Friday, November 18, 2011

One of Hollywood’s Most Enduring Mysteries Back in News

At age 43, world renowned actress, Natalie Wood, was found drowned in the waters off Southern California on 29 November 1981. Immediately, speculation of possible foul-play circulated regarding the mysterious nature of Wood’s death. Her body was found about a mile away from the boat by the Coroner’s Office with two-dozen bruises and she had a facial laceration. Some of Wood’s friends in particular were confused and questioned the accidental circumstances of her death, proclaiming that she couldn’t swim and was afraid of the water.

Wood and her husband, Robert Wagner, were partying on their yacht (Splendour) anchored off Santa Catalina Island near Los Angeles with Captain Dennis Davern and her “Brainstorm” co-star Christopher Walken. The official police report said that Wood disappeared along with the boat’s dinghy. Her death was ruled an accident and it was determined that she had been drinking. The report explained that Wood was “possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.” Moreover, Wood had allegedly disappeared while Wagner and Walkin were arguing—apparently Wagner was admittedly jealous of Walkin and Wood’s relationship.

In a press conference today, Lt. John Corina of the L.A. County Sheriffs’ Department said that they had “new information” that they “deemed substantial.” However, Corina has not made public this new information nor have investigators contacted Christopher Walkin, Robert Wagner, or Dennis Davern. Word has it that police were prompted to look into the case after Davern’s recent comments in an interview with Vanity Fair and the television series “48 Hours Mystery,” which both focused on Wood’s death.

“We didn’t necessarily lie, we just didn’t tell everything,” Davern said in the interview. “It was agreed by all three of us what we were going to tell investigators.” Davern said that once Wood was missing, it was understood that they were not going to look too hard for her; they were not going to use their search light; they were not going to notify anyone right away. Davern said that he agreed with Wagner to tell a story he wanted to tell and not the truth. Davern also said that Wagner waited 4 hours after Wood’s disappearance to notify the Coast Guard and that the altercation between Wagner and Wood may have turned violent. Davern said that before she went missing Wood and Wagner were arguing in the state room and he heard what seemed like violence. He then said the argument moved to the deck area, and then there was an immediate silence. Police, however, say that Wagner is not a suspect at this time.

Wagner released a statement saying that he has not been contacted yet, but fully supports the efforts of police, and he hopes that no one is trying to profit from the 30 yr anniversary of this tragic event. Laura Wood wrote in a biography on her sister, “What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night.” Wagner wrote in a 2009 autobiography that he blamed himself for his wife’s death.

Davern wrote a book about the case that was published in 2009 in which he basically explained these details already. So what has prompted the re-opening of the case? In the original investigation there was also a woman on a boat nearby who insists that she heard a woman’s cry for help. There has also been a petition from Wood’s fans—who are dissatisfied with the original investigation—to have the case reopened.

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