It has been more than 30 years since actress Natalie Woods was found dead off Catalina Island in California, having apparently drowned after allegedly falling in. At the time, her husband Robert Wagner and friend Christopher Walken were exonerated. But the case has been reopened, and new reports from the Los Angeles County Coroner report bruising around her wrists, knees, and ankles, and introduce the idea that she was assaulted before drowning–and that it was murder.
“If Natalie Wood was assaulted and thrown into the water, her husband has to be suspect number one,” Craig Silverman, former Denver prosecutor, reported to National Enquirer, print edition January 28, 2013. “It’s doubtful that she left that boat of her own volition. The version that she got bruised while slipping into the dinghy seems dubious given all of the bruising and the fact that she had on only her nightgown.”
The new findings make the case much darker, for sure, and Silverman points out the obvious question that’s come up with the news: “Why would Christopher Walken or the boat captain hit her? And if one of them did, how could her husband not know about it?” The yacht they were on, Splendour, is not big enough to allow for secret, brutal attacks. The sounds of a fight would, because of it’s small size, be heard by everyone onboard.
Natalie’s sister Lana Wood admits that her “worst fears are coming to the surface,” because she always hoped the death was a tragic accident, not a calculated murder. But even her optimism (if you can call it that) wavered, and she admitted that she “always suspected it was no simple case of my sister getting drunk, jumping into a dinghy, and drowning—that just wasn’t my Natalie.”
Neither Wagner nor Walken have been charged with anything, but the January 14, 2013 findings will surely mandate new interviews. A Wagner insider reported that “he’s devastated by the coroner’s new findings,” and that the reports of violence are “almost too much to take.” I can imagine that, if he’s innocent in all of this, learning that someone in that small party played a part in killing his wife would be unendurable, but it’s hard to believe that he’s said all he knows. Do you think Wagner or Walken played a part in her murder?