Why Robert Wagner Is Now Considered ‘Person of Interest’ in Natalie Wood’s 1981 Death
It's been over 30 years since actress Natalie Wood's mysterious death, and now her husband Robert Wagner is officially considered a “person of interest.”
In 1981, Wood's body was found in the water off the coast of Catalina, covered in bruises. At the time of her death, she was spending time on her family yacht with husband Robert Wagner, her co-star Christopher Walken and Captain Dennis Davern. Her death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, but it was changed to “drowning and other undetermined factors” in 2012.
After reopening the death investigation in 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators say they want to speak with Wagner about the night of Wood's death. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lt. John Corina told “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty, “As we've investigated the case over the last six years, I think he's more of a person of interest now. I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”
Though Wagner has said in the past that Wood's death was an accident, Corina is questioning his account of what happened. He explained, “I haven't seen [Wagner] tell the details that match all the other witnesses in this case. I think he's constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don't add up.”
He continued, “I think it's suspicious enough to make us think that something happened.”
Wagner has refused to talk since the case was reopened.
Along with Corina, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Detective Ralph Hernandez is also on the case. He said, “She looked like a victim of 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.”
In his 2008 memoir, Wagner opened up about her death, writing, “The last time I saw my wife she was fixing her hair at a little vanity in the bathroom while I was arguing with Chris Walken.”
After his heated argument with Walken, Wagner wrote that he went looking for Wood, but she “wasn't there.” He went on to write, “Strange. I went back up on the deck and looked around for her and noticed the dinghy was gone. Stranger. I remember wondering if she¹d taken the dinghy because of the argument, and then I thought, 'No way,' because she was terrified of dark water, and besides that, the dinghy fired up so loudly, and we would have heard it, whether we were in the salon or on deck."
“Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water” airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on CBS.