Wagner not suspect in Natalie Wood’s death

Wagner not suspect in Natalie Wood’s death

LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
Wagner not suspect in Natalie Wood’s death

The body of actress Natalie Wood was found floating in a Catalina Island cove in 1981 at the age of 43. AP Photo

Homicide detectives who have reopened an inquiry into the death of Natalie Wood said on Friday the film star’s husband, actor Robert Wagner, was not considered a suspect in the case.

The new investigation was opened into Wood’s 1981 drowning off the California coast after a yacht captain said he lied about the incident three decades ago and now holds Wagner responsible for her death.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. John Corina told reporters at a news conference on Friday the original finding that Wood’s death was an accidental drowning had not changed.

But detectives had reopened the investigation based on new information from several sources “which we felt was substantial enough to make us take another look at this case,” he said.

Asked by reporters if Wagner, now 81, was considered a suspect, Corina responded: “No.”

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, yacht captain Dennis Davern said Wagner fought with Wood, 43, shortly before she went missing from the “Splendour” and Wagner showed little interest in trying to find her.

Wood had spent the night dining and drinking with Wagner, and her “Brainstorm” co-star, Christopher Walken.

Her body was found floating in a Catalina Island cove off the coast of California on Nov. 29, 1981. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled her death an accidental drowning, noting that Wood had been drinking and was intoxicated when she died.

Questions over the circumstances surrounding her death have lingered for 30 years.

Wood, born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko to Russian immigrant parents in San Francisco, appeared as a child in such films as the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.”

She was nominated for a best supporting actress Academy Award as a teenager for her role opposite screen legend James Dean in the classic 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Wood was also nominated twice for best actress Oscars, for parts in the 1961 film “Splendor in the Grass” and “Love with the Proper Stranger” two years later. She never won the award