Natalie Wood’s death not accident - coroner

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iol tonight july 8 natalie wood AP File photo: Actor Robert Wagner appears with actress Natalie Wood.

London - The death certificate of legendary Hollywood actress Natalie Wood has been changed from “accidental death” to “undetermined”.

Officers from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office have filed to make the change official six months after reopening the case of the West Side Story star whose body was found floating in the Pacific Ocean in November 1981.

A police source said on Saturday night: “There were bruises on the body that cannot be explained by drowning. The investigation is ongoing into determining the cause of Miss Wood’s death.”

The source described Wood’s husband, Hart To Hart star Robert Wagner, now 81, as a “person of interest” in the case, which has become one of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries. It was reopened last November after new witnesses said they had heard the actress scream in terror on the last night of her life.

Wood, 43, was on the yacht Splendour with Wagner and her alleged lover, actor Christopher Walken, now 69, when she vanished overboard on November 29.

Her husband has always insisted she drowned accidentally after falling overboard as she tried to secure a dinghy banging against the boat’s side.

But Wood’s sister Lana told The Mail on Sunday last year that she always suspected foul play: “Natalie would never have gone out in the middle of the night to secure a dinghy. She was terrified of water. Her death was no accident. I’ve always believed she was murdered.”

Last year, new witness Marilyn Wayne, who was on a nearby boat, said she heard Wood “screaming in terror” on the night of her death.

In a sworn statement, she said: “My cabin window was open. A woman’s voice, crying for help, awakened me. ‘Help me, someone please help me, I’m drowning,’ I heard.” Wayne said she called the harbour patrol officer but her calls went unanswered.

Wagner and Walken said the death was accidental after a night of heavy drinking. A jealous Wagner had rowed with Walken when he allegedly flirted with his wife. Wagner has always maintained he had nothing to do with his wife’s death, describing it as “a tragic accident”.

But the Splendour’s captain, Dennis Davern, allegedly told Lana that Wagner did nothing to save his wife. “Dennis said everyone was drunk and a fight broke out and Natalie was in the water and he and RJ [Wagner] did nothing to pull her out,” said Lana. “Dennis said RJ told him to ‘leave her there, teach her a lesson’.” - Daily Mail

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