Los Angeles

Investigators Say They're Giving Natalie Wood Death Investigation a ‘Last Shot'

Natalie Wood drowned off Santa Catalina Island in November 1981

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department detectives said Monday that they have received little new information since witnesses were interviewed in the 1981 death of Natalie Wood and want to see whether anyone might know something about how the actress died. 

Investigators have deemed Wood's 1981 drowning a "suspicious death" and named former husband Robert Wagner, 87, as a "person of interest." During Monday's news conference at sheriff's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, Lt. John Corina said that the department was giving the case one "last shot" to see if any other witnesses would come forward.

"When the tips all dry up," there will be nothing more for officials to investigate, Corina said.

The witnesses who came forward after a news conference in 2011 when the case was reopened helped put together a better timeline of the weekend of Wood's death. Corina said more than 100 people came forward with information.

"We've interviewed a lot of new people," said Lt. John Corina. "People on the island, people moored near the boat that weekend. It was extremely helpful.

"People don't think what they know might be important. Well, it was in this case it helped us piece together the timeline of that weekend."

Wood drowned off the coast of Santa Catalina Island in November 1981. At the time, the couple was on the family's yacht Splendour with Captain Dennis Davern and fellow actor Christopher Walken.

Investigators have said they want to speak with Wagner about the circumstances surrounding Wood's death in 1981, but Wagner, who will turn 88 on Feb. 10, 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 said of Wagner in an interview with "48 Hours." "I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared."

Wood, 43, was reported missing from the Splendour at 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 29. 1981. The next day, the three-time Academy Award nominee was found floating in the water. Witnesses have said they heard Wood and Wagner arguing the night she went missing.

Wagner has in the past denied involvement in his wife's death and no charges have been filed. 

After a two-week investigation, the death was ruled an accident in 1981. 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."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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