TMZ

Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

Call TMZ at (888) 847-9869 or Click Here

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.

1117_rulli_doc_ex_2

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.

update_bar

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."

1118_natalie_wood_footer

251 COMMENTS

No Avatar
91.

happyday    

I don't think anyone ever really doubted that something fishy happened that night, but they could never prove it. I don't see how they could prove anything now. Even if they were all drugged, drunk and fighting, and even if the captain heard "thumping sounds," that doesn't prove anything. It suggests alot, but doesn't prove a thing. Unless those involved come out and flat out admit something--nothing's going to come of this.

880 days ago
92.

Different Rules Apply    

I recall that he was suspect early on.... and it was somehow dismissed (pay off?). There is no rage like a jealous rage - people do things they would not ever dream of doing in other cirumstances. Jealousy causes people to see red. Hope its not true for his sake, but then again, justice should be served if he did kill her. She was very young, beautiful and talented and didn't deserve to go so soon.

880 days ago
93.

Anon    

I've read all the docs and wow. How did so many let Wagner get away with it? He's the original OJ, super jealous of Natalie, with Walken being the final one to push him over. The captain describes Wagner saying Natalie will get her weekend as ominous. All that fighting and no one challenged Wagner? No photos of the stateroom after such a fight? Even with all her bruising? And Wagner's excuse every time is he didn't want bad publicity? Sounds like fame allowed him to get away with murder. OJ.

880 days ago
94.

harleycrw    

No one believed the original story, I hope that they find out what really happened.

880 days ago
95.

boo    

Any coincidence this is all coming out the same time as the 50th anniversary blue-ray of West Side Story???

880 days ago
96.

Cedric Gore    

whoa!

880 days ago
97.

ketjo    

well for those who say why reopen the case is old news....Not to her kids ! its been also 50 yes 50 years since soembody walked in my grandmother story at closing , locked the door and then tried her to a chair and proceded to beat that 76 year old woman to death trying to get her to give them the safes lock combination....the case was never resolved the killers never found and I would to this day like to have that one reopen to find the killers.... Just as I imagine her children feel about this case....
Just as I feel Robert Wagnor ain't sleeping to well now he or Christhoper Walkens they know what happened and the Cops were payed off to rule it accidental....

880 days ago
98.

Victoria    

New Yorkers have all known for decades Walken's sexual appetite and what his kink is. There are women out there who can reveal firsthand.

880 days ago
99.

glacier    

Do***ents on site are very clear.
Robert Wagner did not allow the Captain to turn on the search lights to look for his wife. He waited four hours.
If it were your loved one who was missing, you would do everything in your power to find them.

He did not.

God Bless you Natalie. Gone too soon . . . . .

880 days ago
100.

Boing!    

Got to go to Hawaii to look @boat. Also Wagner was seen in Paris and Monte Carlo since the incident. The trail is cold but with a little luck the investigators will be as tan as Wagner.

880 days ago
101.

ManiacalZebra    

I saw the captain "interviewed" on the Today show this morning. He was seriously evasive and didn't answer direct questions about what his new information was. The book has apparently been out for two years, yet all of this is only coming up now. I guess the book wasn't selling well enough, so they came up with this to sell more books.

880 days ago
102.

margojack    

I can't believe this is news worthy. Yes it's sad that someone died but why is this news worthy?

880 days ago
103.

cregis    

How can anybody believe this guy? Of course, he wants to make his book sensational so that it will sell. If Natalie Wood was so scared of water, why did she go out on a yacht that obviously was named for her, but I don't really care.

880 days ago
104.

PRO US    

I remember when it happened. Almost everyone at the time felt it was bogus. Why would Natalie Wood and her husband Richard Wagner go out on a boat with Christopher Walken in the the first place if Walken wasn't having some kind of a "relationship" with Wood or Wagner. It didn't pass the smell test then. It doesn't now. Sure, this Captain and the author are trying to make some bucks on this issue. Why doesn't anyone ask this Captain why he didn't come forward with his allegations earlier, before 30 years had passed? If you think Natalie Wood drowned by accident. you are very naive. Either Robert Wagner killed her or she died by accident but he couldn't have cared less if she died, was probably happy about it and didn't seriously try to save her. Wouldn't most guys be jealous if their wife was alone with another man on their boat? Be serious. Robert Wagner is the s*** of the Earth, IMHO. But he will try to get you to give up title to your house and get you to lose your home in his infomercial commericals on TV. What a immoral, greedy s***bag he is!

880 days ago
105.

Carol L    

Doesn't pass the smell test.

880 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web