Investigators want to speak with Wagner about the circumstances surrounding her death in 1981, but Wagner has declined.
“We’ve investigated the case over the last six years. I think he’s more of a person of interest now,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lieutenant John Corina says of Wagner in an interview with “48 Hours” for a story — “Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water” — to be broadcast Saturday night. “I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”
Wood drowned off the Santa Catalina coast in November 1981 after she went missing from the Splendour, her family’s yacht. Also aboard were Captain Dennis Davern, Wagner, and Wood’s friend and fellow actor, Christopher Walken. The next day, the actress was found floating in the water.
After a two-week investigation, the death was ruled an accident. But the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the death investigation in 2011. In 2012 the Los Angeles County coroner’s office amended the death certificate, changing the manner of death from an accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
Rumors of foul play have long surrounded Wood’s death. Corina says he doesn’t believe Wagner has told the whole story.
“I haven’t seen him tell the details that match all the other witnesses in this case,” he says of Wagner. “I think he’s constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don’t add up.”
Investigators note the autopsy report indicates there were a number of bruises that appeared to be fresh on Wood’s body.
“She looked like a victim of an assault,” says Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Ralph Hernandez. “I think it’s suspicious enough to make us think that something happened.”
He added: “We have not been able to prove this was a homicide. And we haven’t been able to prove that this was an accident, either. …The ultimate problem is we don’t know how she ended up in the water.”
—City News Service
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