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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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Previous 15 Comments | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
196.

stella    

Wagner may not have hit her, or done anything to put her in the water. But if it wasn't for his jealousy his wife would not be dead. That is the clear truth of the whole matter. His jealousy killed her.

1008 days ago
197.

Pegasus    

Witness Who Heard Natalie Wood Screaming Will Talk To DetectivesWitness Who Heard Natalie Wood Screaming Will Talk To Detectives
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Posted on Nov 19, 2011 @ 04:55PM print it send it By Radar Staff

A woman who heard screen siren Natalie Wood yelling for help on the night she died in 1981 has told RadarOnline.com that she will cooperate with law enforcement investigators who've reopened the mysterious case three decades later.

In an exclusive interview, Marilyn Wane said: "I have not yet spoken to the police, it hasn't come up. But I'd speak to any police that came to me to ask a question, for sure."

Wane is considered a sensational new "ear-witness" in the case. She was guest on an adjacent yacht, roughly 90 feet from the Splendour, the yacht on which Wood, 43, was cruising with husband Robert Wagner and actor Christophe Walken in 1981, just hours before her Thanksgiving weekend death.

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Wane said she heard, "This female voice yelling for help. 'Somebody help me, I'm drowning! Please somebody help me, I'm drowning'."

Wane never spoke to police, she admitted to RadarOnline.com from her Los Angeles home.

"I was never asked," she said, "and to be honest, I would have thought it (the case) would have been dead and buried after all this time, but I guess not.

PHOTOS: Celebrities Who Died In Bizarre Cir****tances

"Everything that happened has been widely reported. So I don't know why the case been reopened, now. I am not sure why this new interest has been aroused.

"Don't we have enough current crime that we have to go back 30 years? It's kind of unusual."

Wood was presumed drowned, according to authorities. They theorized that she accidentally fell overboard when apparently trying to secure a dinghy that was banging against the side of the yacht and keeping her awake.

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In a sudden twist, the captain of the boat on the night in question, Dennis Davern, has blamed Wagner for Wood's death.

When Davern was asked in a live television interview if Wagner, 81, was "responsible" for Wood's death, he said: “Yes, I would say so.”

He claimed Wagner had asked him not to take steps to find his wife.

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It was a matter of, “We're not going to look too hard, we're not going to turn on the search light, we're not going to notify anybody right at the moment," Davern told NBC's Today on Friday.

Asked at a news conference on Friday if Wagner was a suspect, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s lieutenant said point blank, "No."

The actor's spokesman has questioned Davern's motives since the captain has published a book about Wood's death.

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"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. 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,” a statement read.

1008 days ago
198.

blulv1    

Why would anyone wait 30 years to change their story? MONEY,MONEY,and More Money. The police who believe this man may have the last laugh on them.He will make a fool of them.

1008 days ago
199.

Jimmie Slooth    

Why would you submit this book was co-authored by the Captain ? Its patently false on the face of it. He never held himself out as an author. He was the provider of information...........period.

1006 days ago
200.

MrHappy    

TMZ CHALLENGE! Can you find the episode of "It Takes a Thief" where Robert Wagner describes, "the easiest thing to do is to push someone overboard half way between L.A. and Catalina Island"?

1005 days ago
201.

Doug    

The captain has admitted lying to the police. Put him in jail, throw away the key, and forget about the so-called case.

992 days ago
202.

astaire10    

Natalie DESERVES the truth! Something has "smelled" about it in all these years; she wasnt that stupid re the boat..Its RJ who was a jealous fool that night..I feel indeed sorry for him and for those kids who were left w/out their mother.

979 days ago
203.

Tanner Davis    

Ms. Rulli-Are you aware of the unethical practices of the then former LAPD coroner? Did you know he was fired after the Robert Kennedy assassination?. His dismissal was due to the inadequate conclusions and botched findings regarding Kennedys' autopsy. The assassination happened in 1968, so is it possible that the same cronies out in LA voted him back? He is the same coroner that did the autopsy on Natalie Wood.

769 days ago
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