The Natalie Wood death case has been steeped in mystery from the on-set: a vibrant, beautiful brunette actress in her early forties is found dead in the waters off Southern California after last being seen with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, and their guest, actor Christopher Walken on a yacht in November 1981.
The case was ruled a drowning based on the 1981 autopsy, but over the past two years, the case has been re-opened, evidence re-examined and last year, the cause of death was changed to "drowning and other undetermined factors". Now, a new 10-page Coroner's report has ramped up renewed interest in the 30-year-old case even further. The author of this new report, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, wants Natalie Wood's cause of death further modified again, this time to "undetermined causes".
Though the Natalie Wood death case had long officially been considered an accidental drowning, many have been had their doubts since the beginning. Notable among those who still have unanswered questions, Natalie's sister, Lana Wood. "There were things that were always bothering me," Lana Wood said in 2011 of her sister's untimely death.
According to some reports, including those of the yacht's captain who piloted the boat that evening, there was definitely tension in the air the night Natalie Wood apparently fell overboard and died. In a sworn statement from Captain Dennis Davern, the captain claims he heard a fight break out between Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken, possibly over Wood. Wagner allegedly screamed, "Do you want to f--- my wife?" at Walken in a drunken rage, smashing a wine bottle as he ranted.
During this argument between the men, Natalie went to bed; this, according to Robert Wagner himself in a memoir penned years after his wife's death. In Pieces of My Heart, Wagner recounts, "The last time I saw my wife she was fixing her hair in the bathroom while I was arguing with Chris," he said. "I saw her shut the door. She was going to bed."
Wagner claims the argument was over Walken, who Wagner said was trying to butt into Wood's career, something Wagner wanted to prevent. On why he didn't report Natalie missing immediately by calling the coast guard or putting out distress signals, Wagner initially told a rescue boat captain, "We thought she was off on another boat screwing around because that’s the kind of woman she is." Wood's body was found the next day. She was 43-years-old when she died.
Captain Dennis Davern swears he is not mistaken about the heated argument on the boat that November night three decades ago, but admits, "The only full sentence I could decipher during the entire argument was [Wagner to Walken] 'Get off my f---ing boat'."
The new addendum to Wood's autopsy comes in part as a result of bruises that were noted in the 1981 autopsy, but have yet to be explained. The new report, submitted in June 2012, was released this week after a security hold was lifted. The report states in part, "The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water."
"Since there are unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this Medical Examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined," Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran wrote in his report.
When asked in recent years how he felt about the case re-opening, Christopher Walken reportedly said simply, "I don't know."
For more from Capt. Dennis Davern, watch the video above.
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Sources: Daily Mail UK, Huffington Post