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Who Killed Natalie Wood?

Everyone agrees Natalie Wood was tragically taken from us in her prime. But the details of her death remain murky. Keep reading the article below to learn more about Who Killed Natalie Wood.

In November of 1981, she was on the yacht Splendour with her husband, Robert Wagner, fellow actor Christopher Walken and captain Dennis Davern. She disappeared from the boat and was presumed drowned.

Natalie Wood

In the wake of Natalie Wood’s mysterious 1981 death, many of her admirers wanted more than sensational sound bites or vague accusations about her “accidental” demise. They demanded truth, a hard-hitting account of what transpired on Catalina Island that Thanksgiving weekend, and the answer to one crucial question: Did Natalie Wood slip while retieing her dinghy to the yacht and fall into the ocean, or was she murdered?

In 2011, nearly 30 years after Natalie’s death, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials reopened the case and coroner’s officials changed her cause of death from accidental drowning to undetermined factors. After a long and exhaustive investigation, the sheriff’s department announced there would be no charges filed against Wagner or Walken.

But despite this reclassification, the investigation remains open, and Finstad’s book, which she is rereleasing as Natalie Wood: The Complete Biography, reveals even more details that, in her opinion, show conclusively that Wood didn’t simply drown. In her first book, Finstad focused on the relationship between Wood and Wagner and delved into the actress’s stormy career and personal life.

On the night of her death, both Wagner and Walken were questioned multiple times by investigators, but their accounts never added up to concretely prove any one person responsible. Bruises and scrapes listed on the coroner’s report indicated that Wood may have been assaulted before she died, but nothing ever came of those allegations.

It’s been decades since the incident, and while Wagner has addressed his role in her death in a 2009 memoir and has given interviews to TMZ and other outlets, Walken has rarely spoken on the subject and is a no-show for the documentary.

But Dennis Davern, who was the boat’s captain that night and is a family friend and Navy veteran, has made it clear in numerous interviews and his own book, Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour, that he doesn’t believe either Wagner or Walken’s story of what happened that fateful evening. He believes they both kept the truth from investigators, and he has a theory as to why.

What Happened on the Boat?

On the evening of November 29, 1981, Natalie Wood was spending Thanksgiving weekend aboard her husband Robert Wagner’s yacht Splendour, off the coast of Catalina Island. She brought along co-star Christopher Walken, with whom she was having a passionate affair. The three men were drinking heavily. According to one version of events, Wagner got jealous and argued with Walken. Walken then ran back into his stateroom and locked the door, leaving Wagner to tussle with Wood on the boat’s deck. At some point, the argument became so intense that Wagner smashed a glass bottle of wine on the table and chased Wood into her master stateroom to continue the fight.

When Wagner returned to the deck, he spotted the dinghy in the water and called for the Coast Guard. The search lasted four hours, well over the time that Wood was supposed to have disappeared into the ocean. In the end, an islander named Doug Bombard found her body, floating face-down in her cotton nightgown and parka. She was wearing a red jacket with her hair hanging down.

Investigators took notice of the fresh bruises on her body and the timing of their appearance. But the medical examiner ruled her death an accident, citing a fall into dark water. The author reveals key evidence, including never-before-seen photos of Natalie’s autopsy, to show that the official account is a lie.

The new book also explores claims by former Hollywood police detective Duane Rasure that he was directed by the sheriff to close the case. It also uncovers eye-opening facts suggesting that the original investigation was tainted by a coverup, including the withholding of crime scene photographs and the destruction of key evidence.

Among other things, the author exposes attempts by Wagner, Walken and Davern to distance themselves from the blame with magazine interviews and books that change their initial statements. He reveals that the initial stories told by these three men — which led investigators to believe that Wood, who was terrified of water, simply ran off in a dinghy — are false. The author’s analysis of their shifting accounts, along with the numerous bruises found on Wood’s body, raise serious questions about her fate.

What Happened on the Beach?

Amid the many questions surrounding Natalie Wood’s death, some facts remain steadfast. For example, it is known with certainty that alcohol and pills played a role in the actress’s death. It is also a fact that Wood had a deep-seated fear of water. However, what is less certain, and what is the basis for many of the conspiracy theories that continue to circulate about the case, is how exactly did Wood end up in the water that night?

On the Thanksgiving weekend of 1981, Wood was sailing her yacht Splendour with her husband, Robert Wagner, fellow movie star Christopher Walken and their skipper, Dennis Davern. The trio was on the island for the filming of Brainstorm, which Wood was starring in at the time. On this particular trip, the couple’s argumentative nature was exacerbated by their feuding over their work. It was during this period that a rift formed between the two stars that would ultimately lead to her death.

All three men aboard the yacht initially told investigators that they assumed Wood left the boat on her dinghy, despite her notorious fear of the water. However, after the case was reopened in 2011, Davern’s story began to shift—an alarming red flag to investigators.

By examining the forensic evidence gathered during the initial investigation and comparing it to new information that has come to light, this book seeks to answer what really happened the night of Wood’s death. It is hoped that the book will help to clear up confusion and controversies, as well as raise additional issues that should be examined by investigators.

The author argues that the Coast Guard should have been called within hours of the boat disappearing, and he examines how this could have affected the investigation. In addition, he looks at the timing of a bruise discovered on her leg and discusses a mysterious scratch in the center of her throat. He also analyzes a series of alleged anonymous witnesses who have been quoted in the media. Lastly, the book explores what legal principles the prosecution might use in its closing arguments in a murder trial. Sam Perroni is a retired prosecutor and former Assistant United States Attorney who now teaches white-collar crime and trial advocacy at the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas.

What Happened in the Hotel Room?

In life, Natalie Wood was a Hollywood icon, famous for her roles in West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause. But like many celebrities, she was troubled and her death has remained a mystery. The coroner ruled it an accidental drowning but in 2011, the case was reopened and her cause of death was changed to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

The book argues that Wagner is responsible for Wood’s death, alleging that he argued with her while they were on the yacht and pushed her overboard when she went to retie the dinghy. It also claims that bruises and scratches on her body are consistent with being assaulted, something investigators didn’t consider when they ruled her death an accident.

For years, rumors of foul play swirled around the actress’s death but were largely ignored until the reopening of the investigation in 2011. The decision to reopen the case was based on claims from boat captain Dennis Davern, who said he had heard Wood and Wagner arguing before the actor disappeared. Davern had spoken out about his theory on TV and in a 2009 book, but his account didn’t match the official account of what happened.

A former Arkansas assistant prosecutor, Sam Perroni, has been a long-time student of the case and has called for its reexamination. He was forced to sue to get access to the official records, crime scene photos and Natalie Wood’s autopsy results. He then used his legal skills and investigative sleuthing to expose new details about the couple’s interactions and alleged actions.

He reveals that the pair had a heated argument in a restaurant while they were filming Brainstorm in North Carolina and that Wagner threatened her, badgered her, got into a fight with Walken in her presence and employed spies to follow them on their vacation. He also outlines how he has found new witnesses who say they saw Wagner and Wood fighting on the yacht, in a dinghy and on the beach. They have been intimidated into silence, he says, by Wagner. Perroni also cites evidence that Wagner and his friends were hiding details of the incident from authorities and the public.