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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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106.

DirtySouth    

"...[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..."

Isn't this for the police to decide? The presumptuous sound of that statement already invites suspicion. I remember when this happened. I was a big fan of Robert Wagner because I liked Hart to Hart. As a kid at the time, I remember wondering why, if he was such a take action guy on tv with his tv wife, why wouldn't he jump in the water and save his real wife since she fell overboard and was drowning.

1010 days ago
107.

anony    

ATTENTION! ATTENTION, EVERYONE! THIS WAS AN ACCIDENT. MARTI RULLI IS WASTING EVERYONE'S TIME. DOESN'T THE LA COUNTY SHERIFF HAVE DOZENS OF COLD CASES THEY COULD BE WORKING ON?

1010 days ago
108.

cregis    

Why would Wagner kill Natalie Wood? They had been divorced before, couldn't he get another divorce and I believe at that time they both had money.

1010 days ago
109.

URKiddinMee    

There is no statute of limitations on homicide. The question shared by so many is "Why did this take so long to come out?" Were the detectives on the original case truly that inept?

1010 days ago
110.

tiff    

Swimming, as I usually am, in the shallow end of the pool, my first reaction was "Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken doing the nasty? EWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!" I suppose they both looked better 30 years ago but it is still not a pretty picture.

1010 days ago
111.

marcey Strom    

LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE NEEDS SOME MONEY.........SAD SAD SAD TO BRING SOMETHING UP NOW THAT HAPPENED THIRTY YEARS AGO.....COME ON......

1010 days ago
112.

jmp    

Its Saint Augustine

1010 days ago
113.

annie2    

Oops, sorry for the double post...thought it didn't go through the first time. Anyway, sorry so long-winded before. The take home point is I think justice has been denied Natalie for long enough. It's good it's being reopened. Rich and poor alike can get scr*wed over by the system.

1010 days ago
114.

Uncle BERNIE    

If I could visit Catalina, Florida, and Hawaii, on the City's dime, I'd reopen the case too.

1010 days ago
115.

Patrick McDonald    

hell is waiting

1010 days ago
116.

jennifer morrison    

He did it just like Blake did to Bonnie. I am 40 and when i was 11 when she died i thought the same thing. I hope he doesnt go another 30 yrs..hes old and wont be around to pay for his crime.

1010 days ago
117.

lola64    

Mr. Wagner was hoping the investigation doesn't re-open because of the 30th anniversary of Natalie Wood's death. It looks like this is exactly what's happening. Let the woman rest in peace. It certainly won't bring her back.
I believe it was an accident. Natalie Wood feared dark waters. Even as a kid on the set of the Bette Davis film "The Star." Natalie didn't want to swim and Davis protected her. This is as bad as those who believe Marylin Monroe was murdered by the Kennedys. Let it go already. I think Mr. Wagner has suffered enough after all these years.

1010 days ago
118.

Tiffany eddy    

I have always thought mrs woods death was foul play, I just struck it up to movie stars and money to keep it quiet. I have never looked at Jack wagner the same way after that. I really think he murdered her and got away with it. I am thrilled that they reinvestigating her death again. She deserves to have everyone know what really happened that night to her!

1010 days ago
119.

JC    

Hope the truth comes out. I never believed Natalie's death was accidental. Meaning, I think Robert Wagner lied.

1010 days ago
120.

anthebeatgoeson     

I welcome this new investigation. The way it was handled was always suspect to cover up. Deep in my heart, I thought Wagner tossed her overboard or knocked her off the boat. Wagner's behavior has been suspect since Natalie died. When he hooked up with Jill St. John so soon after I was astonished. Something is not right here and it deserves to be opened up.

Wagner needs to come clean. Yes, even at this late date of time.

1010 days ago
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