Questions about the death of Natalie Wood have swirled for years, since her death on Nov. 28, 1981. The actress' death was originally ruled an accidental drowning, but a Los Angeles County Coroner's Office report revealed on Monday, Jan. 14 has again raised questions. The report noted bruising on her body, which may mean that she was assaulted before she hit the water.
The report was completed in May, but wasn't released until Monday. It specifically focused on a number unexplained bruises found on the actress' face, neck, arms and legs.
Chief medical examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran said:
With the presence of fresh bruises in the upper extremities in the right forearm/left wrist area and a small scratch in the anterior neck, this examiner is unable to exclude non-accidental mechanism causing these injuries.
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.
With that, Sathyavagiswaran changed Wood's manner of death from "accidental drowning" to "drowning and other undetermined factors."
He also added that:
... this Medical Examiner is unable to exclude non-volitional, unplanned entry into the water. How injury occurred will be listed as found floating in the ocean. Circumstances not clearly established.
In other words, Sathyavagiswaran was unable to rule out Wood -- who could not swim and was reportedly afraid of the water -- being pushed into the ocean.
According to reports at the time, Wood, then 43, drowned after a night of partying with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, and The Deer Hunter actor Christopher Walken. They were spending the weekend on a yacht called Splendour.
On the night of her death, Natalie Wood, her husband Robert Wagner, and actor Christopher Walken had drinks and dinner at a local restaurant on Catalina Island. The three then continued drinking on the yacht Splendour, where the three were spending the weekend.
There, authorities say, Wagner and Walken had a verbal fight. While they were arguing, Wood, then 43, went to the bathroom. Later, Wagner went to look for her and discovered she was missing.
The official report was that Wood fell off the yacht when she went on deck to reattach a dinghy that had come loose. Others, such as Lana Wood, Natalie’s sister, and the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern, have said they thought the actress and Wagner argued that evening about Walken, who was costarring with Wood in the movie "Brainstorm."
The change in Wood's cause of death was made public last year, but the report, which was dated June 15, 2012, was held until Monday because of concern "that the frenzy that's surrounding this could contaminate the investigation," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
The case remains "open and ongoing; nothing definitive has closed it," Whitmore added. He did say, however, that Wagner is not a suspect.
Wood had been married to Robert Wagner twice. They first married in 1956, but then divorced in 1965. They later remarried in 1972. She was working on the MGM production "Brainstorm" with Walken when she drowned over Thanksgiving weekend.