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Cops Reopen Probe of Natalie Wood’s Death, Cite Boat Captain’s Comments

Posted Nov 18, 2011 7:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Homicide police in Los Angeles County are reopening a probe into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood partly because of comments by the captain of the boat she was aboard before her drowning.

The Los Angeles Times blog L.A. Now, CNN and the Associated Press have stories on the new investigation into the death of Wood, who died during a night of heavy drinking on a boat with her husband, Robert Wagner, and their guest, Christopher Walken. Police ruled the drowning an accident and said Wood, 43, possibly fell in the water while trying to board a dinghy.

Wagner told the Los Angeles Times in 2008 that Wood died after he and Walken had argued over how much of Wood’s personal life should be sacrificed for her career. Wood left to go to the bathroom, he said, and the men eventually calmed down. Wood wasn’t in the cabin when Wagner went to bed. He said in his book that he searched the boat, noticed the dinghy was missing, and assumed his wife had gone ashore.

The boat captain, Dennis Davern, recently gave an interview for a story jointly produced by Vanity Fair and the television program 48 Hours Mystery, AP says. In 2010, Davern told CNN he believed the death investigation was incompetent and suggested there was a cover-up. He said he regretted keeping quiet at Wagner's request.

Davern told CNN that Wagner and Walken had both gone to their cabins when the argument ended, but he later saw Wagner and Wood arguing on the boat's deck.

A spokesman for Wagner said family members support the sheriff’s efforts and “trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid.”

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