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Robert Wagner has “declined to be interviewed” by police reinvestigating the death of his wife Natalie Wood.
Robert Wagner was quizzed after Natalie Wood’s drowning in 1981 but has refused to co-operate since the case was reopened, detectives said.
The body of the actress was found a mile away from the yacht she had been aboard with her husband and fellow-actor Christopher Walken in California.
It is claimed she had a “fight” with Robert Wagner before her disappearance.
Robert Wagner’s solicitor, Blair Berk, insisted the actor had nothing to hide.
In a prepared statement, Blair Berk said: “Mr. Wagner has fully co-operated over the last 30 years in the investigation of the accidental drowning of his wife in 1981.
“He has been interviewed on multiple occasions by the Los Angeles sheriff’s department and answered every single question asked of him by detectives during those interviews.”
Robert Wagner has declined to be interviewed by police reinvestigating the death of his wife Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood’s death was always presumed to be a tragic accident, but the case was reopened in November 2011 when the yacht’s captain, Dennis Davern, told American television shows that he heard the Hollywood couple arguing on the night of her disappearance, suggesting Robert Wagner was to blame for her death.
Blair Berk dismissed the claims as sensationalist, but earlier this week coroner’s officials released an updated autopsy report which reclassified the death from accidental drowning to drowning caused by “undetermined factors.”
The report said part of the reason for the change was because investigators could not rule out that some of the bruises and marks found on Natalie Wood’s body happened before she went into the water.
Lieutenant John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office claimed detectives have tried to interview Robert Wagner on more than 10 occasions, but had been turned down each time.
He said: “Most of the people we’ve talked to were never talked to 30 years ago. We’ve got a lot of new information.”
But when pressed on whether criminal charges could be brought, Lt John Corina claimed that would be up to prosecutors, adding: “All we can do is collect the facts. We’re still trying to collect all the facts.”
Natalie Wood, who was 43 when she died, was a Hollywood superstar best known for her roles in Miracle on 34th Street, West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause.
On the night of her death she had been drinking with her husband and Christopher Walken on the yacht. Her body was found near an inflatable dinghy which had been attached to the craft.
In 2008, Robert Wagner, now 82, wrote in a memoir that he had argued with Christopher Walken and when he went to bed, he noticed his wife and the dinghy were missing.
“Nobody knows,” he wrote.
“There are only two possibilities; either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened.”
An explosive new coroner’s report reveals Natalie Wood was likely beaten aboard her yacht before she went overboard and drowned in 1981, it was claimed today.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s examination of Natalie Wood case also found flaws in “every major” finding of the previous autopsy report that led medical examiners to rule the Hollywood star’s death an accident.
It’s the latest step toward settling the question of whether Natalie Wood was murdered, or whether she accidentally fell overboard on her 60-foot yacht and drowned – as the original police investigation concluded.
The new coroner’s examination asserts that bruises found on the actress’ wrists, knees, and ankles were consistent with her being beaten – not, as the 1981 report concluded, caused by her struggling to climb back aboard to yacht after falling over the side, CBS News reports.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s report has not been made public yet, but CBS reports that sources say the document will poke numerous holes in the original autopsy reporting and the ruling that Natalie Wood’s death was accidental.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives reopened their investigation in 2011 after the captain of the yacht claimed that Natalie Wood’s husband, Robert Wagner, was with her right up until she went overboard.
Her death was ruled “accidental” at the time, but in 2012, the coroner changed the ruling to “undetermined”.
Robert Wagner told investigators that Natalie Wood, who could not swim, must have fallen in the water when she got up to try to retie a dingy that had been knocking against the side of the yacht.
An explosive new coroner’s report reveals Natalie Wood was likely beaten aboard her yacht before she went overboard and drowned in 1981
Her body was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit for driving. She was also found to be under the influence of a motion sickness medication and a painkiller, which likely increased her level of intoxication.
Her body was found floating off Catalina Island, near Los Angeles, several hours later.
The captain of the yacht, Dennis Davern, claimed that a fight had broken out between Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken, who was also aboard to yacht.
He said that after Natalie Wood went to bed, he heard the fight continuing in her cabin, including sounds of a physical struggle.
Dennis Davern claims Robert Wagner waited several hours after his wife disappeared to call authorities.
Natalie Wood, 43, burst into child stardom in 1947 playing little Susie, the girl who didn’t believe in Santa Claus, in Miracle on 34th Street. Natalie Wood later starred as Maria in 1961’s West Side Story and was nominated for an Oscar for her role opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Robert Wagner, now 82, admitted he had a fight with his wife on the night of November 29, 1981, but said she was not in her cabin when he went to bed.
He maintains he had nothing to do with her death, though said he feels personally responsible for not looking after her.
However, Dennis Davern reportedly offered an alternate explanation for Natalie Wood’s death. Lana Wood, the actress’ young sister, claimed to author Suzanne Finstad that Dennis Davern called her and drunkenly confessed that Robert Wagner allowed his wife to drown.
“He said it appeared to him as though [Robert Wagner] shoved her away and she went overboard. Dennis panicked and [Robert Wagner] said, <<Leave her there. Teach her a lesson>>. Dennis said he was very panicky that he was sitting and [Robert Wagner] kept drinking and kept drinking.
“And he’d say, <<Come on, let’s get her>>. And he said [Robert Wagner] was in such a foul mood, at that point, that he then shut up and was waiting for when, when are they gonna go to her rescue, until all the sound stopped,” Lana is heard telling Suzanne Finstad in recordings make for her 2001 book Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood.
Lana Wood continues on to say that Dennis Davern did not think that Robert Wagner meant for Natalie Wood to die but he did not “run to her aid”.
“Even if he did not kill her, which is what I understand the guy’s saying, it was – you know, that it – it was an accident,” Lana Wood said.
Natalie Wood’s death certificate has been amended to reflect some of the lingering questions surrounding the star’s death in 1981.
Actress Natalie Wood drowned during a boat trip with her husband, TV star Robert Wagner, and actor Christopher Walken. At the time it was ruled to have been an accident.
But police reopened their inquiry last year after receiving new evidence.
The death certificate now says she died as a result of “drowning and other undetermined factors”.
The amended document, obtained by the Associated Press news agency, also says the circumstances of how she ended up in the water are “not clearly established”. The certificate was altered earlier this month.
Natalie Wood's death certificate has been amended to reflect some of the lingering questions surrounding the star's death in 1981
Chief of detectives William McSweeney said the decision was made by the coroner’s office. He added that detectives still had work to do on the case, but that did not necessarily mean a major development was coming.
“We don’t close these cases,” he said.
“These cases have active periods and more passive periods. We’re moving toward the end of an active period.”
Conflicting versions of what happened on the yacht have contributed to the mystery of how the actress died in November 1981.
Natalie Wood had been partying the night before her death, and the coroner’s investigation ruled she had been drinking and may have slipped trying to board the dinghy.
Resuming the investigation last November, the sheriff’s office said: “Recently sheriff’s homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning.”
The move came hours after the captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, told NBC News that he lied to police during the initial investigation and that a fight between Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner had led to her death.
In his book Pieces of My Heart, Robert Wagner acknowledged that there had been a fight with Natalie Wood before she had disappeared, but authorities have said Wagner is not a suspect in his wife’s death.
Natalie Wood’s body was found floating in a Catalina Island cove off the coast of California. Police reports said she was found wearing a long nightgown, socks, and a jacket.
The post-mortem report said Natalie Wood had bruises on her body and arms as well as a facial abrasion on her left cheek.
Robert Wagner’s family said they supported the reopening of the inquiry and trusted the detectives would “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”.
As a child, Natalie Wood featured in films like Miracle on 34th Street and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
Natalie Wood was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Rebel Without a Cause, and for best actress for Splendor in the Grass and Love with the Proper Stranger.
The mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood on November 29, 1981, has been much speculated since her death.
Though it may never be clear what happened in the waters off Southern California’s Santa Catalina Island, TMZ reports that Natalie Wood’s death certificate has been changed from “Accident” to “Undetermined”.
TMZ reports that they were told by members of Natalie Wood’s family that L.A. County Sheriff’s Department detectives informed them of the change earlier today.
The family members were told that while Natalie Wood’s cause of death was irrefutably from drowning, they said that it is unclear how the actress got into the water.
The day the actress died, Natalie Wood was spending time with husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken both on Catalina Island and drinking on the yacht.
Robert Wagner said in the 1981 autopsy report that his wife “was not suicidal”.
He has dismissed suggestions that the actress’ death was anything other than an accident.
Natalie Wood’s death certificate has been changed from “Accident” to “Undetermined”
Natalie Wood and fellow actor Robert Wagner were married twice, first in 1957 before divorcing six years later. They remarried in 1972.
Her death during the Thanksgiving weekend in 1981 has long sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved. Rumors were reignited by author Marti Rulli, whose book, Goodbye Natalie, includes a fresh account of the incident by the yacht’s captain, Dennis Davern.
Dennis Davern has come forward to say he lied to investigators in the wake of the tragedy, and suggests Robert Wagner ensured the investigation was not as thorough as it could have been.
Asked on the Today show if he thought Robert Wagner was responsible for Natalie Wood’s death, Dennis Davern replied: “Yes, I would say so. Yes.”
“We didn’t take any steps to see if we could locate her. I think it was a matter of: <<We’re not going to look too hard. We’re not going to turn on the searchlight. We’re not going to notify anybody right now>>.”
“I made terrible decisions and mistakes. I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report.”
In a dossier on the case Dennis Davern and Marti Rulli have now sent to police, they claimed there was “a drastic delay” in calling for help after Natalie Wood went missing.
“There are many, many things that should be examined, but mainly the four-hour wait to call for the coastguard,” Marti Rulli said on CNN.
Dennis Davern maintains that, after the stand-off between Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken, husband and wife went to their state room, from which the skipper heard sounds of a heated argument and “thumping”.
Later, Dennis Davern went back on deck to be told by Robert Wagner that Natalie Wood was missing, along with the yacht’s dinghy.
Natalie Wood’s body was found hours later, floating in an upright position, her eyes fixed and open, her spectacular, long, dark hair trailing along the surface of the water. She was wearing a flannel nightgown, red down jacket and blue woolen socks.
Meanwhile, caught up in seaweed in a cove not far away was the missing dinghy, its oars in place and the key in the ignition in the “off” position, suggesting she had never made it into the boat or, if she had, had quickly fallen out.
Robert Wagner apparently thought she might have been heading for the shore, where there was a bar, or gone party-hopping to one of the other rich people’s boats moored nearby.
Later he suggested she had not been trying to leave the yacht at all, but that she had heard the dinghy slapping against the side of the boat and had gone to secure it more firmly, only to fall in.
Police concluded that the two dozen bruises on her body, including cuts on Natalie Wood’s face, were sustained when she fell overboard and struggled in the water.