The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

January 15, 2013

Coroner releases new report on Natalie Wood death

LOS ANGELES — Some of the bruises found on Natalie Wood's body may have occurred before the actress drowned in the waters off Southern California more than 30 years ago, according to a newly released coroner's report on one of Hollywood's most mysterious deaths.

The case took another twist Monday when officials released a 10-page addendum to Wood's 1981 autopsy that cites unexplained bruises and scratches on Wood's face and arms as significant factors that led to officials changing her death certificate last year from a drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

Officials were careful about their conclusions because they lacked several pieces of evidence for their review.

Bruises on Wood's arms, a scratch on her neck and superficial abrasions to the actress' face may have occurred before Wood ended up in the waters off Catalina Island in November 1981, but coroner's officials wrote they could not definitely determine when the injuries occurred.

The findings have not altered a sheriff's department investigation into Wood's death, which a spokesman described as ongoing.

Wood, 43, was on a yacht with her actor-husband Robert Wagner, co-star Christopher Walken and the boat captain on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981 before somehow ending up in the water. A dinghy that had been attached to the boat was found along the island's shoreline, but investigators could not locate it to review it last year.

Investigators initially reported that there were scratches on its hull, but Wood's fingernails were not preserved for analysis.

The initial autopsy report said it was likely the bruises happened when Wood drowned. "Most of the bruises on the body are superficial and probably sustained at the time of drowning," the initial autopsy report stated.

Several of the original coroner's investigators who worked on the case were re-interviewed, and officials attempted to test some items taken during the investigation into Wood's death and an autopsy, but they could not be located.

"The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water," the amended report states. "Since there are unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this Medical Examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined," Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran wrote in the report completed in June.

Officials also considered that Wood wasn't wearing a life jacket and had no history of suicide attempts and didn't leave a note as reasons to amend its report and the death certificate.

The report was released Monday after sheriff's officials released a security hold.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the agency has known about the findings in the newly released autopsy report for several months and it does not change the status of the investigation, which remains open. He said Wagner is not considered a suspect in Wood's death and the agency hasn't said they have any suspicions about Walken or the boat captain, Dennis Davern.

Wood, famed for roles in such films as "West Side Story" and "Rebel Without a Cause," was nominated for three Academy Awards during her lifetime. Her death stunned the world and has remained one of Hollywood's most enduring mysteries. The original detective on the case, Wagner and Walken have all said they considered her death an accident.

Newly Released Coroner's Report On Natalie Wood Raises More Questions

Conflicting versions of what happened on the yacht have contributed to the mystery of how the actress died. Wood, Wagner and Walken had all been drinking heavily in the hours before the actress disappeared.

The newly released report states there are conflicting statements about when the boat's occupants discovered Wood was missing. The report estimates her time of death was around midnight, and she was reported missing at 1:30 a.m.

The updated report estimates that due to the cold temperature of the water and other factors, Wood likely died shortly after she got into the water.

The renewed inquiry came after the Davern told "48 Hours" and the "Today" show that he heard Wagner and Wood arguing the night of her disappearance and believed Wagner was to blame for her death.

Wagner wrote in a 2008 memoir that he and Walken argued that night. He wrote that Walken went to bed and he stayed up for a while, but when he went to bed, he noticed that his wife and a dinghy that had been attached to the yacht were missing.

"Nobody knows," he wrote. "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's publicist Alan Nierob declined comment on the coroner's findings. Walken's publicist referred an email to the actor's agent, who did not respond.

 

1
Text Only
National and world
  • Veterans Health_Hass.jpg Obama nominee McDonald pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    Robert McDonald cited problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues, during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee over his nomination today.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Immigration Overload_Hass.jpg 2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate

    "The 2008 law creates a process that made sense when you're talking about a limited number of children, the victims of sex trafficking. It doesn't make sense when you talk about 50,000 unaccompanied minors. The 2008 law wasn't designed to deal with this situation." — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Hass.jpg Gaza rocket lands near Israel's main airport

    A Delta Boeing 747 from New York was flying over the Mediterranean headed for Tel Aviv on Tuesday when it turned around and flew to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rick Perry sending National Guard troops to border

    The deployment of National Guard troops, which may act in a law enforcement capacity under state authority, will cost Texas an estimated $12 million per month. They simply will be “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people, authorities said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Gay, transgender workers gain U.S. bias protection

    “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” President Obama declared at a White House signing ceremony.

    July 21, 2014 1 Story

  • Judge won’t lift Fla. Keys gay marriage stay

    Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia rejected a motion to allow immediate weddings filed by attorneys for Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a pair of Key West bartenders whose lawsuit successfully challenged the ban.

    July 21, 2014

  • Obama Medal of Honor_Hass.jpg Obama bestows Medal of Honor on N.H. veteran

    Ryan M. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 200 pairs of panties stolen at east Georgia mall

    The Augusta Chronicle reports that security video shows a male entering the store and stuffing the underwear into a large shopping bag.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lawyer: Pelvic exam pics cost Hopkins $190 million

    Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to a $190 million settlement with more than 8,000 patients of a gynecologist who secretly photographed and videotaped women in the examining room with a pen-like camera he wore around his neck.

    July 21, 2014

  • Western Wildfires_Hass.jpg Helpful weather coming to Washington wildfires

    Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers estimates that 150 homes have been destroyed, but suspects that number could be higher.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads