On Thursday, investigators confirmed that actor Robert Wagner is a person of interest in the 1981 drowning death of his then-wife, actress Natalie Wood.
Marti Rulli, author of “Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour,” spoke with Nancy Grace about the recent revelation, and indicated that two witnesses who came forward gave authorities information needed to consider Wagner a person of interest, and to look into Wood’s death as suspicious.
“They [police] say that these witnesses provided a completely different account of what happened that night,” Rulli told Grace. “And they’re so credible that they’ve [police] reopened this case and are going to investigate it.”
Police received hundreds of tips on the infamous case, according to entertainment editor, Alexis Tereszcuk, who also spoke to Grace. Out of the hundreds of tips, two witnesses stood out so strongly that Wood’s death is no longer considered accidental.
Tereszcuk said at this point, police are being extremely “tight” with the identities of the new witnesses and have not disclosed their names or how they’re connected to the incident. However, authorities did indicate that one of the witnesses said they heard yelling and crashing from Wagner and Wood’s state room, aboard the Slendour family yacht.
The new information substantiated claims made years ago when Grace interviewed Captain Dennis Davern, who was aboard the Splendour that night, along with Wagner, Wood, and actor, Christopher Walken.
According to Davern, Wagner and Wood had been arguing the entire weekend of Nov. 28, 1981, while spending time on the yacht and the surrounding area of the Santa Catalina Island. On the night the actress disappeared, Davern said he heard banging and arguing before everything became quickly quiet. When he checked on the couple, Wagner was alone; he said Wood disappeared. Wagner reportedly told Davern that the dinghy was also missing.
Director of Atlanta’s Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, Sheryl McCollum, pointed out, however, that Wood, who was afraid of water, would have never left alone in a dinghy.
“Twenty-four hours before, she’s in a hotel with Dennis Davern because she does not want to be on that yacht with Robert Wagner. That’s powerful to me. That means this fight, this argument, this situation has gone on and on for hours. The thing that resonates for me……I know good and well that Natalie Wood would have never taken a dinghy by herself…She would have gone and gotten Dennis if she was trying to leave on her own.”
“She didn’t know how to start the dinghy,” Rulli added. “It takes a lot to start that type of dinghy.”
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Information Bureau confirmed on Thurs. that the witnesses said they heard a commotion shortly before Wood’s disappearance.
“A witness provided details about hearing yelling and crashing sounds coming from the couple’s stateroom. Shortly afterwards, separate witnesses identified a man and a woman arguing on the back of the boat. The witnesses believed that the voices belonged to Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner.”
Rulli pointed out that the two witnesses actually came forward in 2011, after the LAPD reopened the case into Wood’s death. They apparently never turned up before because in 1981, detectives closed the case and labeled Wood’s death as accidental.
Detectives are still seeking anyone with information regarding Wood’s death. Anyone with any first-hand information is urged to contact the LASD Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Listen to Nancy Grace’s full interview on the Natalie Wood case on Monday’s SIIRUS XM show on Ch. 132 and on the Crime Stories podcast at CrimeOnline.
[Feature Photo: Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood via AP]