Was Natalie Wood Murdered?

Sean McKeown, Sean McKeown, and Sean McKeown

The drowning of actress Natalie Wood in late November of 1981 stopped America in its tracks. Everyone wanted to hear about what happened to the icon. Conspiracies were swirling everywhere even when the L.A. County Sheriffs Department closed the case and called it an accident.

On Friday afternoon, Lieutenant John Corina of the L.A. County Sheriffs Department made the announcement that they “received information which we felt was substantial enough to take another look at this case”. This sparks more debate in an already controversial case.

What happened on the night of November 29th 1981? What we do know is actress Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner, went onto the yacht, driven by Dennis Davern. Wood asked Christopher Walken, the co-star of her last movie, to join them on the boat. Somewhere along the line Natalie ended up in the water and died. It took four hours for Wagner to call the Coast Guard and tell them his wife went missing. When the first police investigation ended, they reported that Natalie Wood died by falling in the water drunk and was unable to swim. Captain Davern announced “that story is 100% false.”

Conspiracy theorists think that that Natalie Wood was murdered. The captain of the ship has admitted that he lied to the police because Robert Wagner demanded him to be quiet. In fact, Captain Dennis Davern on the CBS special edition of “48 Hours Mystery” said, “I believe Wagner was with her up until the moment she went into the water.” According to his story, Chris Walken and Natalie Wood were laughing and having a great time. He said this caused Wagner to become jealous and claim that Walken was trying to sleep with his wife. Afterwards, everyone went to their rooms and there was a big fight between the couple. Dennis Davern said, “Then the fighting went back to the back of the boat and then it was quiet”. Wagner then told him that they should search the boat for Natalie. When they couldn’t find her, Davern asked if he should use the searchlight and scan the water and Robert Wagner replied “don’t do that”.

Many people still believe Robert Wagner is innocent though, not just the police. Wagner has said that they were desperately in love with each other and he misses her a lot. He said that he believes Natalie Wood was trying to get off the boat into a dingy. While doing this he thinks she hit her head, went unconscious and drowned.  Christopher Walken said he agrees with Wagner.

No matter what the truth is, it is difficult for many to believe that there is any evidence now that could change the conclusion of the case. Lieutenant John Corina when asked by a journalist if Robert Wagner was a suspect quickly replied, “No”. The case is now open again after thirty years. But could the evidence really be that substantial? And is Robert Wagner really not a suspect?

*The quotes from Dennis Davern are from the CBS show “48 Hours Mystery”.