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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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76.

♥TMZ but ...    

I remember thinking it was suspicious how immediately after her death the pseudo actress Jill St. John rushed to his side and has never left
to me that made me think Wagner & Walken were carrying on and Natalie got in the way

1014 days ago
77.

Lisa    

So Robert Wagner killed her. The bastard.
I bet he gave William ****ner tips on how to drown your wife and get away with it too.

1014 days ago
78.

ginny    

no one believed it then either, especially all of us that sailed to Catalina. She would nt have been out screwing around with a dingy at that hour. Yet another great Hollyword cover up.
The bosses did not allow their stars to be human and kill one another. They cannot prove thing now; interesting that the new Vanity Fair Hollywood issue is coming out and the front page story is The Icy Ocean, the noght NW died. Cjrist what will people not do for money!

1014 days ago
79.

Rob    

I am a long time fan of Natalie Wood. I am pleased the case has been reopened. Things never added up. And, I've always feard foul play. I hope she wasn't murdered by someone she thought she could trust. But, I fear she may have been.

1014 days ago
80.

the artist formerly known as hand turkey    

Hey, all I'm saying is that if I was on a jury, being afraid of water wouldn't mean anything if the victim was in an altered state. Also, I'd wonder if she was so afraid, she couldn't even go near the pool, how did she manage to get on boats?

You have to remove all doubt to convict somebody of murder. Drugs and alcohol explain away irrational and out of character behavior, whether they caused it or not, you can't know for sure. Doubt.

1014 days ago
81.

Gigohead     

Wagner pulled off the perfect crime it seems. Doesn't seem anything will come out of these new allegations anyway.

1014 days ago
82.

scan88    

And why is this coming out now, so many years after the fact?

This might be interesting, or it might be hype.

1014 days ago
83.

Pita    

I have always thought that there was something suspicious about what actually went on that night on the boat. And Robert Wagner knows more than his lying spirit will tell. I hope the truth will come out for Natalies sake. Walken is probably a good actor, actors are good liers, so I am sure if he was ever man enough he would tell a different story. I cannot look at Robert Wagner without thinking about Natalie. No, we can't prove anything...but we all KNOW who did it. She was so much better than both of these s***bags!

1014 days ago
84.

Letstango    

I have always thought there was foul play and Robert Wagner had something to do with it. I always loved Natalie Wood; she was my favorite actress. After her death, I stopped watching anything with Robert Wagner in it. I thought it was wierd too that Natalie wasn't in her grave long before he started seeing another woman. (Was it Jill St.John?) Thank you so much for reopening this case! Maybe there is true justice afterall!!!

1014 days ago
85.

Letstango    

Quaaludes and alcohol usually makes people feel stronger and can get mean. No one should ever mix a concoction of this sort. It also can make you think strange things. That captain should've known better than to offer it if there was tension to begin with. That only made it worst.

1014 days ago
86.

Sandra     

Always thought something was off with her death!!

1014 days ago
87.

Bob     

I have always felt Robert Wagner killed his wife in a rage of jealousy. Every time I've seen Wagner, since the wife's death, it screams murder. I know this is just a gut feeling; but, I'm glad someone is looking into it.

1014 days ago
88.

Scotty    

I'll bet Wagner did it bc of his anger! The truth always comes out!

1014 days ago
89.

AreUCrazy    

30 years ago, when this first happened, I thought Robert Wagner did it.. I have always thought that he got away with murder. It might be too late to figure out what really happened but at least someone might be a bit nervous and losing some sleep now that they reopened the case(Mr. Wagner).

1014 days ago
90.

Yeti Lee    

Quick somebody hire Jonathan and Jennifer Hart to solve the case.

1014 days ago
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