‘We’re trying to figure out what happened’: LA Homicide chief on Natalie Wood death investigation, Robert Wagner’s role

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department gave a press conference Monday to discuss the latest developments in the Natalie Wood death investigation.

Homicide Bureau Lieutenant John Corina confirmed in the news conference that Wood’s 1981 drowning “remains a suspicious circumstances death” and explained how detectives had obtained new witness accounts they discussed in a CBS 48 Hours segment about her death this weekend.

“Over 100 people came forward” after the department gave a press conference in 2011, and some of those tips were valuable, he said.

“We’ve interviewed a lot of new people,”Lt. John Corina said. “People on the island, people moored near the boat that weekend. It was extremely helpful.

“People don’t think what they know might be important. Well, it was in this case it helped us piece together the timeline of that weekend.”

Corina admitted that the authorities agreed to give the investigation another look after they were approached by a news organization, presumably CBS. The lieutenant said that given the success of the last news conference in generating tips, he hoped that renewed attention would compel more people to come forward, as “things have dried up” in the last year and a half.

Lt. Corina confirmed that Wood’s then-husband Robert Wagner is a person of interest but not a suspect in the investigation.

“He’s person of interest because he was the last person with her,” Lt. Corina said

“He’s not a suspect … we’re trying to figure out what happened,” he said, adding that Wagner has refused to speak with investigators.

“He can say I don’t want to talk,” Lt. Corina said. “That’s his right.”

Reiterating that Wagner was not a suspect, Lt. Corina said, “We can never force him to talk to us, suspect or not.”

Lt. Corina said that at this time the department is not planning on pressing additional charges but that he hopes more witnesses will come forward.

[Feature image: Associated Press/Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood]