TV star ‘person of interest’ in wife’s death
ROBERT Wagner has been named a "person of interest" in the death of his late wife Natalie Wood - 36 years after she died.
The Sun reports that the revelation was made by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant John Corina in a new CBS documentary about the star's death and the mystery that's shrouded it.
He told CBS's 48 Hours: "As we've investigated the case over the last six years, I think he's (Wagner) more of a person of interest now.
"I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared."
Wood, known for her high-profile roles in West Side Story, Miracle on 34th Street and Rebel Without a Cause, was found dead in the water in 1981 at age 43.
The Academy Award-winning actress was travelling on her family's yacht, Splendour, with Wagner, the ship's captain Dennis Davern and her friend, actor Christopher Walken, off the coast of Catalina Island at the time of her death.
Investigators closed the case two weeks following her death, ruling it an accident.
However, the sheriff's office reopened the case in 2011 and changed Wood's cause of death on her certificate from "accidental drowning" to "drowning and other undetermined factors."
Investigators, who have been working on the case for six years, told 48 Hours they are ready to speak with Wagner, who has refused to talk to officials about Wood's death since the case was reopened.
At the time of her death, Wagner, Walken and Davern told investigators Wood "took off in a dinghy and went ashore."
However, Wood said in previous statements that she was terrified of the water.
Following their original statements, Wagner and Davern have changed the chain of events that occurred that night.
Davern said in 2011 that he shouted at Walken "Do you want to f**k my wife" before smashing a bottle of wine and then "get off my f**king boat".
Darvern claims Wagner told him what to say initially.
Rumours and conspiracy theories related to Wood's death have circulated for years and "foul play" has been suspected.
Lt. Corina added: "I haven't seen him (Wagner) tell the details that match all the other witnesses in this case. I think he's constantly changed his story a little. And his version of events just don't add up."
Walken spoke with investigators recently regarding her death.
The autopsy report specified Woods had fresh bruises on her body.
"She looked like a victim of an assault," Ralph Hernandez, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told 48 Hours.
When asked if he believed Wood was murdered, Lt. Corina said he believed it was suspicious.
"I think it's suspicious enough to make us think that something happened," Lt. Corina said.
When asked if he believed Wagner knew more than what he let on about his late wife's death, Lt. Corina said yes.
"Well, I think he does because he's the last one to see her," Lt. Corina said.
Hernandez reiterated that Wood's death was not proved to be a suicide or an accident, and investigators are trying to decipher how she "ended up in the water."
Wood and Wagner married in December 1957. The two began dating when she was 18 and he was 26. They divorced in April 1962 and remarried in 1972.
Wagner, 87, wrote a memoir in 2008 titled Pieces of My Heart and recalled a time when he argued with Walken over his wife's career, People reported. He claimed in the book he did not know what happened to Wood on the night of her death.
"Nobody knows. There are only two possibilities: either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened," Wagner wrote.
He expressed regret for Wood's death, writing he would have done something.
"Did I blame myself?" he wrote. "If I had been there, I could have done something. But I wasn't there. I didn't see her. The door was closed; I thought she was below deck. I didn't hear anything. But ultimately, a man is responsible for his loved one, and she was my loved one."
Wagner went on to marry American actress Jill St. John in 1990.
St John is best known for her Bond girl role as Tiffany Case alongside Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished here with permission