Some time during the night of November 28, 1981, the famous actress disappeared over the side of the couple’s 60-foot yacht, The Splendor, near Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of California.
Her lifeless body was fished out of the water one mile away from The Splendor at 8am the following morning. A dinghy from the yacht was found beached close by.
37 years later the case remains unsolved but a new documentary will air on US television this weekend with shocking fresh allegations from the LA County Sheriff department.
Did Wagner know more than he told police at the time?
LA County Lieutenant John Corina said: “I think it’s suspicious enough to make us think that something happened.”
Rumours and speculation have long centred on the facts that Wood had bruising on her body and had a well-documented fear of water. So, why had she gone out alone in a dinghy at night?
Wagner and Christopher Walken, who was also on the yacht at the time, were questioned and have both consistently denied any involvement in or knowledge of the mysterious death.
A coroner recorded a cause of “accidental death by drowning and hypothermia.” Traces of alchol and medication in her bloodstream led the coroner to state that Wood may have slipped while trying to reboard the dinghy.
Corona is asked if he thinks Wagner could more information on the mystery: “Well, I think he does because he’s the last one to see her… I think he’s constantly … he’s changed his story a little bit. …and his version of events just don’t add up.”
in 2011, the captain of The Splendor forced the case to be opened. Dennis Davern publicly stated that he had lied to police during the initial investigation. He went on record saying that Wood and Wagner had an argument that evening, alleging that Wagner was responsible for her death.
After nine months of further investigation, Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, amended the death certificate with new reports that the brusing on Wood’s body was determined to have potentially been caused before her death.
Also the coroner concluded that the manner in which Wood had ended up in the water had not been “clearly established. Consequently, the changed the cause of her death from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
Now the ongoing investigation is featured in an explosive 48 Hours special.
Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water” will be broadcast on Saturday February 3 at on CBS in the US.
During the show, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators tell 48 Hours that Wagner is now a person of interest.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detective Ralph Hernandez says: “She looked like the victim of an assault.
“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,” says Hernandez. “The ultimate problem is we don’t know how she ended up in the water.”