Photo Credit: Ron Galella/WireImage
It's been almost 30 years since Natalie Wood tragically and mysteriously drowned on Nov. 29, 1981, while on a vacation with her husband Robert Wagner and her Barnstorm costar Christopher Walken off the cost of California's Catalina Island. At the time, the death of the 43-year-old actress -- known for her roles in 1947's Miracle on 34th Street, 1955's Rebel Without a Cause and 1961's West Side Story -- was deemed an accident. But new evidence offered by the captain of the yacht Wood fled on the night she drowned has caused authorities to reopen the case.
In an interview that aired Friday on the Today show, Dennis Davern, the boat's captain, revealed that there was arguing on the boat (named Splendour after Wood's 1961 movie Splendor in the Grass) the night the actress drowned. Davern also said that Wagner told him not to try to locate Wood when she disappeared from the boat, and that he and Wagner later agreed on the story they would tell police. Watch the interview below.
"I did lie on a report several years ago," Davern said. "I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report."
And, when asked if he believes Wagner to be "responsible" for Wood's death, Davern replied, "Yes, I would say so. Yes."
Partly as a result of Davern's statements, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday night that it was reopening the case of Wood's death. They say they have new information about the incident in addition to Davern's statements.
A spokesperson for Wagner, now 81, released a statement saying that the actor and his family would fully support the investigation.
"Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death," the statement reads.
Davern, who co-wrote a book titled Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour, claims that his intentions in coming forward are anything but opportunistic. "I'm not really the investigator here, and I'm far away from even thinking about profiting over a 30-year anniversary," he said on Today. "I've known this information for many, many years and my book has been out for two years. I'm not in it for any kind of profit, I'm in it for the justice of the whole situation."
The Sheriff's Department has scheduled a news conference to discuss the case for Friday at 11 a.m. PT.