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Natalie Wood Death

Investigating Detective

Never Thought It Was Murder

11/19/2011 4:03 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

The detective who investigated the death of Natalie Wood back in 1981 says he would have arrested Robert Wagner himself if the evidence pointed in that direction, but instead he "never really got suspicious of a murder."

Duane Rasure, a retired detective sergeant for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau, tells CBS News, "If I have ever the slightest inkling there was a murder, something suspicious, I would have worked it. I did not cover for anybody and I wouldn't cover for anybody. I don't care about their celebrity status. They were people."

Rasure, whose interview airs on CBS tonight, says he believes Dennis Davern, the boat captain from that night, is not telling the full truth and that he is "trying to sell a book and make money off of it."


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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, 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.”

1068 days ago


OH Really? What do you call this guy now? One of the Three Stooges! Marilyn Wayne never contacted even though she heard Natalie Wood screaming for help and male voice (wagner)letting her drown! That so-called detective is a little star-stuck zombie couldn't do a thing typical!

1067 days ago


Dennis knew the truth, still does..RJ did not Murder Natalee, He ONLY allowed her 2 remain in the cold, dark water while she kept asking 4 help..HE, RJ wanted 2 teach Her a lesson remember..He was drunk and did not help his wife..I dont know what 2 call it..MAN SLAUGHTER maybe..He was an ass..IM sure GUILT has haunted him 4 -30 Years..Another Booze fatality..

1065 days ago


I worked with some of Duanes investigative coworkers...they were convinced that the truth was that her husband & Christopher Walken were screwing each other and she was horrible upset about drunk..fell off the boat..and they did not bother to notice it

1065 days ago


I wonder how Natalie's daughters feel about this situation. They are the ones who have had the most to loose!

1058 days ago
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