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Natalie Wood Death

Book Triggered Homicide Investigation

11/18/2011 6:10 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

1117_natalie_wood_ex_marti_rulli_exNatalie Wood's death has been reopened as a homicide investigation, primarily because of a book written by the captain of the boat where Natalie Wood spent her last minutes ... a book suggesting foul play ... this according to sources close to the investigation.

We've learned Marti Rulli -- who co-authored the book -- has been in regular touch with the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. over the last few months.  She has given Sheriff's investigators documents supporting material in her book, and we're told the Sheriff is so impressed he has assigned 2 full-time homicide detectives to the case.

In the book -- "Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour" -- Rulli and Splendour Captain Dennis Davern write about the night Natalie drowned.  They say before Natalie disappeared from the boat, she was drinking and taking Quaaludes with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.

According to the book, Wagner became enraged when he saw Wood and Walken speaking, and smashed a wine bottle, yelling at Walken, "What do you want to do, f**k my wife?  Is that what you want?"

At that point, Walken returned to his cabin and Natalie and Robert went to their state room. According to the Captain, he heard a loud argument between the couple and thumping sounds, and eventually silence.

A short time later, the Captain went to the deck and was told by Wagner, "Natalie is missing."

The book claims Wagner refused to let the Captain call the Coast Guard.

Wagner told the Capt. the dinghy was gone, along with Natalie, but some doubted that because she was deathly afraid of dark water.

The death was ruled an accident, but Rulli was like a pit bull since the book was written in 2008.

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We're told the homicide investigators have already traveled to Catalina, as well as  New Jersey to interview Rulli.  They've also gone to Augustine, Florida to interview the Captain, and they're going to Hawaii to look at the Splendour.

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7:25 PM PST  A source familiar with the investigation tells TMZ the Sheriff's Dept. has not called anyone a suspect in Wood's death.  It is a general homicide investigation for now, and will take "a long time to complete."  The source adds, supporting documentation in several books about Wood's death -- including Marti Rulli's book -- triggered the investigation because the witnesses accounts of circumstances surrounding Wood's death did not square with what they told officials immediately after her death.

We're told no one from the Sheriff's Dept. has spoken with Wagner, nor has an interview been requested ... at least so far.

7:08 PM PST -- Robert Wagner's rep released a statement to TMZ ... saying, "Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff’s department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept."

The statement continues, "[The Wagners] 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."

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251 COMMENTS

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166.

Kid_Tipsie    

As Scarface said "Another Quaalude she'll be back" -- ahh shoot I guess not

1072 days ago
167.

Violette-Blue    

I always knew that Natalie Wood was killed. Either by Robert Wagner or Christopher Walken or both of them. She was deathly affraid of water & didn't know how to swim. Their story never made any sense to me. I hope she can finally have the justice she deserves and peace. I also always suspected William ****ner of killing his third wife(?). She was an a-plus swimmer and she just "accidentally" fell into the pool and drowned? I think not. Justice for these women please.

1072 days ago
168.

amy    

always knew it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Jill St. John was waiting in the wings

1072 days ago
169.

Liz    

I do not know much of this but, I was interested when I read that Christopher Walken was involved in this case (somehow). I love a mystery but I ask, what about Christopher Walken? Was he ever a suspect?

1072 days ago
170.

Mike    

My father is a huge fan of "West Side Story" and other Natalie Wood movies. He said he was really upset when he heard Natalie died back then.

My dad was on a commercial flight one time a few decades ago and sat across the aisle from Robert Wagner. He said he was a big fan of Natalie and Robert said all sorts of good things about her. He said Robert seemed like a good guy and he was patient and friendly with him and other people on the flight. Not all stars are like that.

I wonder what he's going to think if it turns out that Robert Wagner was in a drunken, jealous rage and he pushed her off the boat and she killed her.

Never know. Maybe Robert Wagner has a dark side when he gets really drunk like Mel Gibson does. Some quiet, laid back people you'd never expect to get that way sometimes when they're drunk. They're like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

1072 days ago
171.

Kyle    

Short 'n' Sweet Obvious *possible* scenario:
They were drinking and taking Quaaludes = a deadly combination.
Despite Wagner's sexual orientation, any arguing that took place...
Maybe he shoved her she hit her head and couldn't be revived,he panicked threw her overboard.

Being it was @ sea, and we didn't have the advantage of DNA testing back then compounded with Wagner's star power / money it was "hushed".

1072 days ago
172.

Mike    

This is what quaaludes do to you:

Effects are sedation, decrease in anxiety, loosening of inhibitions, and "balance issues". Some people experience pleasant body effects. Side effects include disorientation, extreme sedation/sleep, grogginess the next day, and memory loss.

If Natalie's blood tests showed a lot of quaaludes AND alcohol, I bet she was stumbling all over the place. Robert and Walken too.

Robert or Walken could have stumbled and just barely bumped Natalie and she could have fallen and cracked her head open on the side of the boat. Then, maybe Robert and Walken panicked and pushed her overboard because they were afraid of the scandal and being accused of negligence, manslaughter or whatever.

1072 days ago
173.

3Storms    

Christopher Walken needs to chime in. He could at least confirm/debunk that the argument took place.

And people have suspected Robert Wagner for many years. This is nothing new.

1072 days ago
174.

PT    

* Yawn ... *

1072 days ago
175.

Becky    

There is no statute of limitations with regard to murder. Diminished capacity due to alcohol and/or drugs would certainly have been a mitigating factor if Robert Wagner had been charged. Many here probably don't realize what a huge star Natalie Wood was. Along with Wagner, they were the Pitt-Jolie of the day. She was a beauty and loved by the public, as was Wagner. Walken, as oddly non-expressive as he can make himself appear as an actor, could have stonewalled the police without a problem. He should be questioned again in light of this recent book, as should his long-time friends. I want to read this book...I'm intrigued.

1072 days ago
176.

Mike    

You can read a few chapters of this book about Natalie Wood on Google books. I'm about to read it.
Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour

http://books.google.com/books?id=AWSIUGj34OQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Goodbye+Natalie,+Goodbye+Splendour&hl=en&ei=fLXGTpr6NoPW0QHy7JH5Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Natalie certainly was a splendid looking woman with a lot of talent. She could have been a big star for 20-30 more years. It's really sad.

1072 days ago
177.

lili    

FYI Natalie did not "stumble" off of the boat. That statement ignores that her body was covered in bruises and scratches. Witness testimony who found her body. Please read the do***ents they are well worth your time.

1072 days ago
178.

Pegasus    

RJ and Natalie had problems because RJ was messwing around with Jill St.John who he married after Natalie's death.

1072 days ago
179.

lulu    

They've also gone to Augustine, Florida, Thats actually Saint Augustine, Florida

1072 days ago
180.

Frank    

That "captain" has been dry heaving about Ms. Wood's death for 30 years. He never coughs up anything.

1072 days ago
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