In November 1981, West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause actress Natalie Wood was found drowned off the coast of California’s Catalina Island. Her death was initially ruled an accident. But in 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened her case. Now, six years later, a new witness has emerged, and her testimony could help investigators figure out what happened to Wood the night she disappeared from her family yacht.
Wood was reported missing the night before she was found dead. She had been on her yacht, the Splendour, with husband Robert Wagner, the ship’s captain Dennis Davern, and Wood’s friend and costar at the time Christopher Walken.
In an interview with CBS’s 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant John Corina stated that Robert Wagner is now being considered a person of interest.
According to Davern, who has been cooperating with investigators, Wagner and Wood were engaged in a fight on the back of the boat the night before she was found dead. Investigators are now certain that Wagner was the last person to see Wood alive. This theory is backed up further by new witness testimonies given to investigators since the case reopened.
One of the new witnesses reported hearing yelling and crashing coming from Wagner and Wood’s yacht stateroom. Then two different witnesses heard an argument between a man and woman whom they believed were Wagner and Wood.
These statements differ from the original witness testimony regarding the timeline of events — including those from people who were on the boat at the time of Wood’s disappearance.
Wagner has denied any involvement in his wife’s death and is still not considered a suspect by investigators, but rather just a person of interest. The actor has also refused to speak with investigators since the case reopened. We hope justice for Natalie is served in due time.