The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that actor Robert Wagner is indeed a “person of interest” in the decades-old drowning death of his wife Natalie Wood, though as Deadline reports, the term, splashy as it might sound, “has no legal meaning and does not mean that Wagner is a suspect.” In a Monday press conference, the department addressed the newest details in the 1981 death of Wood, recently bolstered by a wide-ranging “48 Hours” special that aired over the weekend, one that offered new theories while continuing to highlight Wagner as a possible suspect.
During the press conference, Lt. John Corina shared that “since they have been investigating actress’ drowning death, about 100 people came forth, and new witnesses were identified that have helped articulate the timeline.” The case regarding Wood’s death was reopened in 2011. A year later, the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office amended Wood’s death certificate, as CBS noted, “changing the manner of death from an accidental drowning to ‘drowning and other undetermined factors.'”
“We’re closer to understanding what happened that weekend and how it kinda went down,” Deadline reports Corina said at the press conference. “Before we were all believing this story that she got in the dingy and tried to go into town in her nightgown and her socks by herself when it’s raining out and the seas are really rough and you can’t even see at midnight, which made absolutely no sense if you really think about it.”
On the night of November 28, 1981, the beloved actress disappeared along the coast of California’s Catalina Island during an ocean outing with her husband Wagner and her “Brainstorm” co-star Christopher Walken. The next morning, she was found nearly a mile away from the yacht “Splendour,” though the circumstances of her death have long remained strange and unanswered.
Deadline reports that “Corina said investigators have all the information up until how she ended up in the water,” and are continuing to expand on that information and timeline. “We interviewed a lot of new people — people on the island, people who were more near the boat that night or that weekend, people who knew the couple or had knowledge of what was going on that weekend. So it’s been extremely helpful in re-creating what happened,” he said.
Both Walken and Wagner have “maintained that it was a mere accident that took Wood’s life,” which was the initial finding in 1981 after a two-week investigation. Corina reiterated that Wagner has not made himself available for new interviews.
“We’d love to hear from Robert Wagner. We’d love to hear his side, his version of events,” said the detective. Deadline reports that Corina added that the version of events that Wagner provided to both the media and the investigators during the initial investigation — and one that he has maintained to this day — “really don’t add up to what we found and what we’ve heard” from other witnesses.