Natalie Wood was a successful actress and loving mother when she died from “accidental drowning” in 1981, during a luxurious yacht trip with her husband and some fellow actors.
Nearly 40 years after the tragic loss, investigators now believe that her death may not have been an accident at all, the Los Angeles Times reports.
And the actress’ husband, famed actor Robert Wagner, is now a person of interest in her death.Old Hollywood/Facebook
The incident occurred in November 1981, just off the coast of Catalina Island in California, when Wood was aboard her family’s yacht.
Despite being “frightened to death by water,” she decided to spend time with her husband, along with actors Christopher Walken and Captain Dennis Davern, aboard the boat, Us Weekly reports.
Wagner allegedly spent some time alone with his wife while on the vessel, but claimed she “took off in a dinghy and went ashore” despite choppy waters reported that day.
A short time later, she was found dead in the water at age 43. The mother and “West Side Story” star’s death was ruled accidental.
But in 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case due to some suspicious details surrounding her death, Entertainment Tonight reports.
Now, there’s renewed interest in the case. According to the L.A. Times:
This week, one of the investigators on the case, John Corina, reignited interest with comments about Wagner and his wife’s death.
“He is a person of interest, because he was the last one with Natalie Wood. And somehow she ends up in the water and drowns,” said Corina, a lieutenant in the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau.
ET reports that L.A. County Sheriff’s Department detective Ralph Hernandez told CBS News in a new “48 Hours” episode:
“She looked like a 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. The ultimate problem is we don’t know how she ended up in the water.”
Wagner, now 87, allegedly changed his story several times throughout the investigation, and refused to participate when they reopened the case seven years ago, ET reports.
Corina explained to the L.A. Times why investigators are taking another look at the case now:
“Some of the things we found that [Wagner] did afterwards, or didn’t do, in the boat, cause us to say, ‘This doesn’t make any sense,'” Corina said. “We’re at the end of the investigation. We’re at a standstill, so we thought we’d give it one more shot to the public.”
Since the case reopened, her cause of death was changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
Despite being the last person to see her alive, Wagner has not been named a suspect in the case. Watch coverage of the story below: