Wagner Won't Talk To Police About Wood Death

Wagner Won't Talk To Police About Wood Death

Natalie Wood's husband Robert Wagner will not talk to detectives who have re-opened an investigation into the Hollywood star's mystery death in 1981.

Through his lawyer, the 82-year-old actor said he has already answered all questions about how his wife came to drown off California's Catalina Island.

A family statement said that those seeking to challenge the original finding of accidental death by drowning were trying to "exploit and sensationalise" the 30th anniversary of her death.

Blair Berk, lawyer for the Wagners, said: "Mr Wagner has fully co-operated over the last 30 years in the investigation of the accidental drowning of his wife."

He said his client had been "interviewed on multiple occasions by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and answered every single question asked of him by detectives during those interviews".

The comments came after an updated coroner's report this week changed the cause of death to "drowning and other undetermined factors" and said she may have ended up in the sea in a "non-volitional" manner.

On the night she died the West Side Story star, who was 43, had been drinking heavily on a yacht with Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.

It was realised Wood was missing around midnight, but initially it was thought she might have returned to shore using the boat's dinghy.

Wagner raised the alarm with authorities at 1.30 am. A search was launched, and her body was found floating face-down in the ocean some 200 yards from shore. The dinghy was found nearby, about a mile from the main boat.

The initial coroner's report decided the death was accidental and the bruising probably occurred when she ended up in the water.

But it was amended last June to read: "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."

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman John Corina said Wagner is the only person on the boat at the time Wood drowned not to speak to detectives assigned to the new examination.

More than 100 witnesses have been interviewed since the investigation was re-opened, he said.

"We reached out through his attorney and got rebuffed.

"We went to his home and he refused to talk us and we sent him a letter, so I say it is fair to say he has declined to be interviewed, repeatedly," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said earlier the report does not change the status of the investigation, and Wagner is not considered a suspect.

The renewed inquiry came after the boat's captain, Dennis Davern, told a TV programme he heard Wagner and Wood arguing on the night of her disappearance and believed Wagner was to blame for her death.

Wagner wrote in a 2008 memoir that he and Walken had argued that night.

As a 16-year-old, Wood's part in Rebel Without A Cause alongside James Dean in 1955 earned her a nomination for the best supporting actress Oscar.

She starred in the musicals West Side Story and Gypsy, and received best actress nominations for her performances in Splendor In The Grass and Love With The Proper Stranger.