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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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61.

Azzkicker    

This is a 30 year old crime. It was investigated back then & nothing was done; nothing will be done now, because there's no new evidence, it's just rehashing old evidence. Trust me; when everything is said and done, nothing new will have happened...

1007 days ago
62.

hung and dashing    

I'm curious as to what exactly would be a "new" detail or revelation. I recall that there had been some weird argument aboard the yacht. It seemed to be something about an affair between either Natalie and Walken OR Walken and Wagner. Walken went to bed. Wagner and Natalie continued to argue. Then supposedly, Wagner remained in their bedroom cabin as Natalie in nightgown and slippers went to the dingy. She supposedly slipped on what was then reported to be a wine or champagne bottle inside the dingy. That caused her to fall overboard. But no one heard a thing? And Natalie with a phobia of dark waters would do all of that - even drunk? It never made sense because we can't forget that Walken was a guest. WHO precisely rented the yacht? Why would Natalie flee as to "row" to shore when SHE was the biggest star among them and could have ordered THE TWO MEN off of the yacht instead? And what's NOW interesting is that if she tripped on a bottle IN the dingy but the captain heard a bottle smashed by Wagner, where were the TWO bottles (or glass shards from the Wagner bottle). There would be not one but two bottles involved now. And Natalie with a head injury - left dead and left with a husband refusing to involve the coast guard.

1007 days ago
63.

Marilyn    

Let them reopen Marilyn's death too!

1007 days ago
64.

kitnplayn    

Just in time for the 30th anniversary of the death of a MAJOR American movie star. So, why did they wait 30 years to bring this on? Well, so Americans can make dirty heartless money off of her tragedy, since that's really what you do best.

1007 days ago
65.

loula    

as you know, Harvey, there is absolutely NOTHING new on this. Nothing. Nothing. This is bulls**t. Dennis Davern is a flake and has been telling stories for all these years.

1007 days ago
66.

Ghost Rider    

Her husband killed her, The End.

1007 days ago
67.

dee    

I never believed it was an accident, but things happen when water, alcohol and drugs are involved. It seems like a couple that was married before and divorced and then married again have never resolved their original problems.

1007 days ago
68.

JAMES LAKOVISH    

quaaludes, pot, wine, any thing could of happened, olny thing for sure is they trying to make money off the book, just wonder what the cut the people comminf foward now is going to, waste of time by officals, even if ROBERT DID IT THEY COULD NOT PROVE IT, ANY EVIDENCE IS GONE

1007 days ago
69.

Julies    

TMZ is investigating leads and possibly new facts in the death of Natalie Wood. Possibly relevant,keep us posted about truths. Many remember her as a talented actor. She has family and was a mother, so please keep that in mind when putting forth speculation. Sensitivity counts.

1007 days ago
70.

E    

Good for Rulli! Rulli's summary of events is exactly what has been widely circulated in LA for decades; and people who knew them personally found it 100% believable. Sadly, the LA coroner's office finds a lot of "accidents" and "suicides." I wouldn't want to die in LA; I trust them to find their a$$ with both hands about as much as I'd trust a snake. You can bet that the police department are in no rush to solve this one (Wagner's still alive). Time will prove it.

1007 days ago
71.

annie2    

If it was our loved one, you would hope they would reopen the case. Just because she was a celebrity does not mean she is getting special treatment. Actually BECAUSE she was a celebrity as were the possible suspects, justice may have actually been denied to her so as to avoid implicating and having to try 2 famous people; perhaps they don't want to look stupid or be accused of covering up an investigation either and that's why it's reopened. Back then we didn't have the internet and instant news like we do now. This will add the proper pressure to get the job done (not that there is much hope of a different verdict after 30 years). Too bad.

The author would probably threaten to go public anyway, forcing them into an investigation. If foul play was involved, I hope Mr Wagner fries (well, figuratively, not that it would actually happen to him). I actually doubt Walken had anything to do with it.

1007 days ago
72.

annie2    

If it was any of our loved ones, you would hope they would reopen the case. Just because she was a celebrity does not mean she is getting special treatment. Actually BECAUSE she was a celebrity as were the possible suspects justice may have actually been denied to her so as to avoid implicating and having to try 2 famous people; perhaps they don't want to look stupid or be accused of covering up an investigation either. Back then we didn't have the internet and instant news like we do now. This will add the proper pressure to get the job done (not that there is much hope of a different verdict after 30 years). Too bad.

The author would probably threaten to go public anyway, forcing them into an investigation. If foul play was involved, I hope Mr Wagner fries (well, figuratively, not that it would actually happen to him). I actually doubt Walken had anything to do with it.

1007 days ago
73.

mook    

The one I feel bad for is Christopher Walken. This event has shadowed his whole career and to he did not deserve that. To this day people still look at him funny, and yeah he tries to play it off by acting weird, but deep down inside it has hurt him emotionally. If Wagner killed her, and I'm not saying he did but only if, then that's a really messed up thing that he did not only to Natalie, but also to Christopher.

1007 days ago
74.

char    

it happened over 30 years ago. unless someone confesses or more than what they saying is new evidence i don't see anything changing. they were all high on alcohol and whatever else they were doing. it was tragic she died but i don't see anything new of substance to change the ruling. people who are high and angry enough could have gone into a dingy even with the fear of water when in that condition.

1007 days ago
75.

jonbenet'sdolls    

For the Wagner rep to use the pronoun 'they' is telling. It should be 'he'. It seems like they are trying to spread out the blame to the whole family when it would be just Robert under suspicion. If Natale was killed she deserves justice.

1007 days ago
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