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Natalie Wood Murder Revealed 30 Years Later

Actress Natalie Wood Murder remains a mystery. It took place on the Thanksgiving weekend of 1981 aboard her yacht, Splendour. Her husband, Robert Wagner, and crew members Christopher Walken and Dennis Davern were also on board.


Fresh bruises and scrapes were discovered on her body, which led police to reopen the investigation.

For nearly four decades, Hollywood has been fascinated by the mystery surrounding the death of Natalie Wood. Her flamboyant lifestyle, scandalous love affairs, and beauty were the stuff of tabloid legend. It’s no wonder that her death remains an unsolved mystery to this day.

It all began on November 29, 1981, when the 43-year-old movie star was found floating in the waters off Catalina Island. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Coroner’s Office originally ruled her death an accident, but later changed it to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

Wood was sailing on her husband Robert Wagner’s yacht with recent Oscar winner Christopher Walken when she disappeared. According to the version of events that Wagner has given, the two were arguing in her cabin and she went to the deck to cool off. While there, she fell off the boat while trying to tie up a dinghy.

When the body was found, investigators noted scratches on her torso and arms. They also saw signs of bruising and foam coming from her mouth. While these are not uncommon in drownings, it was a mystery as to how the bruises and foam got there. The initial investigators speculated that she slipped off the yacht and struggled to get into a rubber dinghy. However, there were no nail clippings taken from her hands, and the dinghy was not available to examine.

Eventually, the case was closed without any charges being filed. However, Wood’s sister Lana has continued to investigate her death, and she has pointed the finger at Robert Wagner. In an interview with 48 Hours, Lana claims that the detectives who originally investigated the incident didn’t do a thorough job of their work.

In 2018, the LA sheriff’s department reopened the case, and they have branded Wagner a person of interest. However, the new investigators stopped short of ruling the death a homicide because they did not have enough evidence to prove that he killed Wood.

Christopher Walken

Walken was a well-known actor who appeared in many movies and television shows, including The Deer Hunter and Brainstorm. He had recently won an Academy Award for his performance in the former.

He was also a Navy veteran and family friend of the Wagners. In 1981, he agreed to join the couple on their yacht, Splendour, for a Thanksgiving weekend sailing trip off of Catalina Island.

That night, they dined at Doug’s Harbor Reef Restaurant. According to witnesses, the four were drinking heavily. They were so drunk, in fact, that the manager called the police to report them. Despite being so hammered, they were still able to leave the restaurant by boat.

It was during this time that the two men started to get into a heated argument, which is what caused them to call the police. The exact nature of the dispute is unclear. One account suggests that the argument was about the couple’s frequent film shoot-related absences from their children. Another suggestion is that the dispute was about money.

The arguing was enough to convince Walken to leave the boat, and he never returned. When the authorities arrived at the dock, they found Wood’s body floating in the water. She had been wearing a flannel nightgown and down jacket.

Officially, her death was ruled an accident due to drowning. However, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office changed her cause of death in 2013. The new report cited “abnormal bruises” on her arms and knee and noted that she had suffered blunt force trauma.

This has led to speculation that Walken had a role in her murder. Although he has never been charged, his involvement in the case was considered a red flag by investigators. The investigation reopened in 2011 after Davern confessed that he had lied during the initial investigation and had blamed Wagner for the actress’s death. He later pleaded guilty to perjury in connection with the case and was sentenced to prison for five years. He was released in 2017. Throughout the years, there have been new reports and speculations about the case.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is re-examining the evidence in Natalie Wood’s mysterious drowning death 30 years ago. The case was originally classified as a tragic accident. However, there are suspicions that it was much more than that.

In 1981, Wood went on a boat trip to Santa Catalina Island with her husband, actor Robert Wagner. Also aboard the yacht was fellow actor Christopher Walken and Dennis Davern, who was the skipper of the ship.

It was during this voyage that Wood went missing. She was not found until the next day when her body was pulled from the water. An autopsy was performed on her body and the results were inconclusive. There was no sign of head trauma and there were no broken bones. However, her body was covered in bruises and there was foam coming from her mouth which are typical of drowning victims. The bruising was a clear indication that she struggled before her death.

However, this conclusion did not sit well with the family of Natalie Wood. Her sister Lana is convinced that her brother-in-law has something to hide and has urged authorities to reopen the investigation. She has even gone so far as to accuse Wagner of murder in multiple interviews.

The reopening of the case was spurred by a petition from Lana and captain of the Splendour, Dennis Davern. The former skipper has made several public statements indicating that the official account of events leading up to Wood’s death is false. He argued that the fight between Wood and Wagner was what ultimately led to her death.

He has also stated that he did not tell the truth during the initial 1981 investigation because he wanted to protect his friend. He has been criticized for not being as forthcoming as he should have been but insists that his conscience has finally gotten to him.

In 2018, 48 Hours reported that LA County Sheriff’s detectives were talking for the first time about the investigation into Wood’s death and had named Wagner a person of interest. The detectives, Ralph Hernandez and Corina Martinez, said that Wood’s bruises looked like those of an assault and that they believed Wagner was involved in her death. However, a homicide conviction requires convincing a jury of a preponderance of the evidence which is not easy for even seasoned detectives.

The Case

The death of actress Natalie Wood remains one of Hollywood’s most famous unsolved mysteries. On November 29, 1981, the star of West Side Story, Miracle on 34th Street, and Rebel Without a Cause was found dead off the coast of California’s Catalina Island. She had been on her yacht with husband Robert Wagner, friend and Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken, and the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern. Authorities ruled the death an accident, but some new developments suggest that something else may have happened.

In 2011, 30 years after Natalie Wood’s death, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials reopened the investigation and changed her cause of death from “accidental drowning” to “drowning.” The change was based on new evidence from an autopsy, including fresh bruises on her arms and knee. The new report also suggested that she may have been assaulted before she died.

But it’s not just the new evidence that has reopened the case; there are many questions that have never been answered. For instance, why did it take the crew four hours to call for help after Wood’s body was found? And why did the sheriff’s department initially say she accidentally fell into the water instead of mentioning that she was a terrible swimmer and might have been thrown overboard?

There have also been rumors that foul play was involved. Both Wagner and Walken have given a number of conflicting accounts of what happened that night, which raised red flags for investigators. Wagner has refused to talk to investigators since the case was reopened, and he told 48 Hours that he doesn’t think Walken has told the truth either.

Wood’s sister, Lana, has also been outspoken about her suspicions. Her book Little Sister: My Investigation into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood was published in 2021. The book claims that Wagner and Wood got into a fight at a restaurant before the filming of Brainstorm, and that there is more to the story than what authorities have reported. Despite these controversies, police still haven’t charged anyone with any crime in connection with Wood’s death.