In a surprise development on Thursday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the investigation into the death of famed actress Natalie Wood. "Recently sheriff's homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning. Due to the additional information, Sheriff's homicide bureau has decided to take another look at the case," the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.
Per TMZ, that new information comes from Marti Rulli, who recently co-authored the book 'Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,' with Dennis Davern, the captain of the ship that Wood was on when she died in 1981 after accidentally drowning off the coast of California.

Wood, who was on the 'Splendour' with her husband Robert Wagner and then-co-star Christopher Walken, reportedly went on the deck of the ship around midnight on Nov. 29, 1981, to reattach a loose dinghy. Intoxicated on alcohol and Quaaludes -- as well as a poor swimmer wearing a heavy red coat -- Wood is believed to have fallen over the side of the boat and drowned.

Before the incident, Wagner and Wood reportedly argued over Walken, whom Wagner believed was looking to have an affair with his wife. According to the new book, Davern heard a "loud argument" between the couple and then eventual "silence." Davern also alleges that Wagner wouldn't let the captain call the Coast Guard.

Per TMZ, Los Angeles police detectives have not called anyone a suspect just yet; there is a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. PST on Friday.

"Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff's department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff's Dept," said Robert Wagner's representatives to TMZ in a statement. "[The Wagners] trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her tragic death."

Wood was 43 at the time of her death. She was most famous for her roles in 'A Rebel Without a Cause,' 'Splendor in the Grass,' 'The Searchers,' and 'West Side Story.'

UPDATE: According to TMZ, Marti Rulli's book found that Natalie Wood's heavy coat -- originally thought to be one of the reasons she drowned -- would have actually acted as a floatation device, meaning the actress could have stayed alive for hours in the water while Robert Wagner allegedly stalled the Coast Guard.

UPDATE: Per Lt. John Corina, Robert Wagner is not a suspect. "At the Homicide Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, we are always open to receiving additional information about older cases as well as current cases," Corina said at the press conference on Friday. "Recently we have received information which we felt was substantial and we are going to take another look at this case. The case has been assigned to sheriff's homicide investigators. [...] This is an accidental drowning. That is what it is."

Earlier on Friday, Davern went on the 'Today' show and reiterated that he felt Wagner was responsible for Wood's death. [via E!]


[via LAT, TMZ]

[Photo: AP]


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