Shocking New Development in 4 Decade Old Natalie Wood Drowning Case

February 01, 2018Feb 01, 2018

In November 1981, Oscar-nominated actress Natalie Wood died under mysterious circumstances. The "Miracle on 34th Street" actress was on a yacht off Catalina Island in California with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, when she fell off the boat and died.

Nearly four decades after her unexplained drowning, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators tell "48 Hours" that her then-husband, actor Robert Wagner, is now a person of interest. Investigators want to speak with Wagner about the circumstances surrounding, they say in interviews for "Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water."

"As 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 Department Lieutenant John Corina says of Wagner in an interview with "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty.

"I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared."

When Wood drowned off the coast of Catalina Island, her husband, Captain Dennis Davern, and Wood's friend and fellow actor, Christopher Walken were on the boat with her. The next day, the actress was found floating in the water wearing a red down jacket and flannel nightgown.

After a two-week investigation, police ruled her death accidental. Thirty years later, in 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department made a surprising move and reopened the death investigation.

In 2012 the Los Angeles Coroner's Office took it one step further. They amended the death certificate, changing the manner of death from an accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

Now, six years after the investigation was reopened, "48 Hours" talked with the investigators about new witnesses, new evidence, and their new theories about what happened that night.

Rumors that Wood was actually murdered have long surrounded Wood's mysterious death. Right after her death, the three men who were onboard the boat with her—Wagner, Walken, and Davern—told detectives that Wood took off in a dinghy and went ashore. However, that story seemed suspicious because Wood was famously terrified of dark water.

Over time, Wagner and Davern's accounts have shifted. This was a red flag to the investigators. Investigators say Wagner has refused to speak with them since the case reopened in 2011. Corina said 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," Corina says of Wagner. "I think he's constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don't add up."

Walken has spoken with investigators. He is not a person of interest, tweeted Moriarty.

Wood's autopsy also raised red flags for investigators. Natalie Wood's autopsy report indicates there were a number of bruises that appeared to be fresh on her body. That was not consistent with the story of her falling into the water.

"She looked like a victim of an assault," says Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Detective Ralph Hernandez.

Do you believe Natalie Wood was murdered?" asked CBS corespondent Moriarty.

"I think it's suspicious enough to make us think that something happened," Corina says.

"Do you believe Robert Wagner knows a lot more about what happened to his wife than he's ever said?" asked Moriarty in a follow-up question.

"Well, I think he does because he's the last one to see her," Corina replied.

Moriarty, who covered the death of Princess Diana and the JonBenet Ramsey case, has been covering the Wood case for six years. "48 Hours" was the only news organization to capture the detectives searching the Splendour, the boat, for clues.

"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."

"Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water" will be broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

In other news, First Lady Melania is being attacked over her posts on Black History Month. 

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