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Natalie Wood

May Have Struggled for Hours

Before She Died

11/18/2011 6:07 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood
was wearing a red down jacket when authorities discovered her body 30 years ago ... and her wardrobe could prove she floated alive in dark water for hours while Robert Wagner allegedly stalled rescue efforts.

Marti Rulli -- the author of the book that triggered cops to re-open the investigation into Wood's death -- performed a forensic test on down coats similar to Natalie's ... which proved a down jacket acts like a life preserver in water ... "it will not sink, but instead remains floating."

Rulli's finding completely contradicts the opinion of the coroner in the case -- who insisted the jacket would have sapped Natalie's strength and weighed her down in the ocean.

Wood's body was discovered in the ocean off Catalina Island -- hours after she went missing from a cruise with her husband Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken.

Originally, law enforcement believed Wood slipped off the boat while trying to tie down a dinghy. But now, cops have doubts ... after the captain revealed Wood and Wagner had been arguing intensely before she went missing.

The captain also claimed Wagner instructed the crew to NOT call in the Coast Guard to aid in search and rescue efforts once they realized Natalie had gone missing.

95 COMMENTS

No Avatar
61.

Murphy    

I remember when this happened and at that time the media talked about arguments between the 3 people, a shame they had to wait 30 years to re-open the case, and writing Natalie off as a drunk... I hope they find the guilty party finally.

1033 days ago
62.

Tom Victor    

They always show her younger pic. She was already looking pretty ragged for her age. She slept around, drank and pretty much was the Lindsey Lohan of her age. She was alright but she was no Meryl Streep.

1033 days ago
63.

GMawK    

3 drunks on a boat 30 years ago, 1 falls off. Hmmm, how many times do you think this has happened to other people? What a waste of time, her soul is already gone, like 30 yrs. will make a difference? Somebody must be bored...

1032 days ago
64.

GMawK    

3 drunks on a boat, one falls off. Hmmmm. How many times has this happened for real, and 30 yrs. ago? Her soul is already gone. Somebody must be bored.....

1032 days ago
65.

CN    

Years ago I had been in some cir****tances as this one..WE all were drunk and not thinking clear ETC.. Mistakes are made..I dont believe RJ wanted Natalie to die..He was mad and playing drunken games..His game backfired..When he sobered up somewhat He realized what had happened 2 some extent..The reason He was unconsolable and grief stricken after Her death is NOW very Obvious..In a way it was His fault and Hers 4 drinking so much..ITS a typical drunken Mess..Sad, Horrible and a Nightmare accident

1032 days ago
66.

MARGETALICA    

Waiting hours to call for help is what I always found suspect-and the fact she was water-phobic her entire life. This boat was not that large that cw could not hear a fight- screams for help- as reported.Where was he ?I think Natalie was such a pretty women and I still enjoy many of her films. I hope there is Justice for her -the next case should be M.M..

1032 days ago
67.

kitcarson    

Anony, Santa Fe Jack, thank you for some reason in this, otherwise, ignorant crowd. Only one thing to add. I don't know who gave the author of the book the her degree in forensic science, but she must have forgotten most of what was taught to her. Speeking as one who has fallen into a body of water in a down jacket (and I remember the "Michelan Man" down jackets of that time) they float exceptionally well, except when being worn by a body in motion. They then turn to a SERIOUS en***brance. Imagine trying to swim in pudding...Now imagine doing that drunk and stoned and at night after a nasty fall.
There's no conspiracy here, folks. Just a lot of BAD late seventies, early eighties drug and booze induced judgement.
Don't get me wrong, her death was a horrible tragedy. She was one of my favorite actresses and one of the most beautiful women in the world...someone's wife, mother, daughter and friend...and that's always a horrible loss.

1032 days ago
68.

mich    

I always thought there was a coverup people think they can get away with things but the truth always comes out

1032 days ago
69.

Pegasus    

Witness Who Heard Natalie Wood Screaming Will Talk To DetectivesWitness Who Heard Natalie Wood Screaming Will Talk To Detectives
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.

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"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.

1032 days ago
70.

Malik    

November 29 marks the 30th anniversary of Natalie's mysterious death. "Why now, is because I've been trying to tell information about this for many, many years, but there wasn't really anyone listening until now," Davern explained. "I've been trying to get somebody to listen for a long time, and now somebody is listening, and they're going to carry on with this investigation. I'm not saying anything different. All the information that I've revealed in the past, it's all in that book and now it's just up to the investigators to do an investigation." The former captain of the boat from which Natalie drowned is coming forward with a new claim that her husband, Robert Wagner, was responsible.

THIS WHOLE STORY IS INTENDED AS A PROMOTION FOR THE CAPTAIN'S BOOK, "Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour," which he co-wrote last year. Most Americans are really very simple and very gullible!

1032 days ago
71.

Vee105    

THAT MTFKER, ROBERT WAGNER OUGHT TO PAY FOR NOT DOING HIS BEST TO SAVE HIS WIFE. HE MAY NOT GO TO JAIL; HOWEVER I HOPE KARMA GETS HIS SORRY OLD AZZ!

1031 days ago
72.

Lee    

It is possible that after a fight with her husband, she foolishly decided to storm off the boat by trying to climb into the dingy and maybe head to shore. The dingy was removed and found later. She was drunk and likely not thinking clearly. Don't know anything about the captain so can't judge how credible he is. We'd have to believe that the captain, Wagner and Walken conspired to cover it up and that just doesn't seem likely. I think Wagner and Wood had a fight and she went off to sulk or maybe opted to head back to shore on the dingy. We don't know for sure that Wagner stopped anyone from searching for her. He'd have to get the "witnesses" on board to go along with the story. If they didn't see her or the dingy, maybe he did think she was on her way back to shore and didn't care since they were angry with each other. I bet they were all partying and no one was thinking clearly.

1031 days ago
73.

BigMiamiDude    

You forget the most important information. Is that she was terrified of water....especially dark water. The few times she was made to get in the water for films.....she was so terrified, and started thrashing wildly. Her and Wagner were probably arguing at the time.....she probably didn't want to deal with her husband....and tried to tie the dingy herself. With her fear of water....she would have died within 5 minutes. There were nail marks on the dingy indicating she was trying to get in.....but unless there were countless scratch marks.....that kind of disproves your theory.

1030 days ago
74.

Pegasus    

Natalie Wood Could Have Been Saved: Secret Account From Never-Before-Interviewed Coast Guard WitnessNatalie Wood Could Have Been Saved: Secret Account From Never-Before-Interviewed Coast Guard Witness
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted on Nov 21, 2011 @ 01:45PM print it send it
WENNBy Dylan Howard,
Senior Executive Editor, Star Magazine

The Coast Guard captain who pulled screen siren Natalie Wood out of the water after she drowned 30 years ago has told homicide detectives that her life could have been saved, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned.

Roger Smith was the Supervising Rescue Boat Captain on Catalina Island, Calif., on November 29, 1981 -- the day the three-time Oscar nominated actress was found drowned.

He said he was never interviewed at the time cops were investigating Wood's death.

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In a sworn statement presented to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, Smith said he got a call at 5:00am that fateful morning informing him that the West Side Story star had been missing from the yacht, Splendour, for several hours.

Smith wrote that if he had been contacted sooner, Wood could still be alive today.

In the declaration he authored in support of the dramatic re-opening of the case surrounding the actress’s death, Smith stated that he was left baffled why nothing was done sooner to find the starlet, who had gone missing around 11:00pm the night before.

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“I have always wondered about the delayed call for professional help to rescue Natalie Wood,” Smith said.

“Always regretting that I hadn't been called early enough as I believe there may have been a true chance of saving Natalie, as the condition of her body after being brought ashore suggested she may have floated alive for several hours.

“Her fingers were pliable, and her face and body not showing certain effects being deceased in an ocean for hours would normally incur.”

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Smith revealed that he was so upset by the incident that he even looked into how long Wood could have lasted in the sea off the California coast before getting aid.

“I did some research on how long someone like Natalie could survive in the water holding on to the inflatable boat” he said.

He was going by her then-husband Robert Wagner’s account that the actress had tried to secure the “banging dinghy” that was disturbing her sleep as it hit loudly against the boat and fell in the water while attempting the procedure.

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“It ended up to be 3.3 to 4.9 hours,” Smith said.

“Depending on her willingness to survive. That meant she was drifting with the boat being pushed by the wind and not being strong enough to pull herself back into the boat. She must have cried for help and no one could hear her that late at night with the wind blowing off shore.”

Wood was last seen by Wagner, now 81, around 11pm, but authorities were not notified until some six hours later.

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“The Baywatch Isthmus boat was equipped with all of the rescue equipment needed to find her, if we had been called,” Smith said.

He also described, in the declaration, the state of Wood's body when he pulled her onto deck of his rescue boat.

“She had a burgundy night gown with nothing underneath,” he recalled. “Her arms and fingers moved very easy as I removed her rings; she showed no signs of rigor mortis.”

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“She must have been hanging onto the safety line on the boat drifting out of the harbor for hours. Her eyes were still open so I closed them and covered her with a blanket.”

He claimed he was treated as the “fall guy” and was demoted from his position four months after the incident which he had held for 10 years.

Smith said he had fought against cutbacks to the service before Wood's death and warned his superiors that they were jeopardizing the possibility of loss of life outside of their mainly 9-to-5 operation.

“So the famous Natalie Wood is gone,” Smith told the cops, who reopened the cold case.

“She died because of politics and poor decision making on many peoples’ part, as she cried for help for hours that night.”

1030 days ago
75.

Donna    

None of us (including the clowns at TMZ) were there that night almost 30 years ago, so everything is heresay. And I find TMZ's believeing someone who wrote a book over the coroner laughable. Good credibility there, folks. Who knows what happened that night, but the LA DA's office has nothing better to do with their time?

1028 days ago
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