The unique story of how Natalie Wooden died makes “completely no sense” — however authorities can’t name it homicide or deliver any costs with the proof they’ve collected to this point, an investigator stated Monday.
To lastly remedy the thriller of how Wooden drowned within the frigid water off Santa Catalina Island in 1981, it’s going to take one other witness stepping ahead or new info from an current one, stated Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division.
“We’re nearer to understanding what occurred,” however vital questions stay, Corina stated at a press convention Monday in Los Angeles.
Corina reiterated that Wooden’s husband, Robert Wagner, 87, has been upgraded to “an individual of curiosity” because the case was reopened in 2011, however he stated there was no method to drive the “Coronary heart to Coronary heart” actor to cooperate and reply questions.
“It is a suspicious dying investigation. It’s not a homicide investigation. So, he’s not a suspect of committing a homicide or against the law,” Corina stated. “We’re not urgent costs on anybody.”
He stated investigators nonetheless wish to converse with Wagner however repeated makes an attempt to succeed in him straight and thru his legal professionals in recent times have failed.
“We’d love to listen to his aspect, his model of occasions,” Corina stated. “What he instructed the unique investigators and what he’s portrayed since then actually don’t add as much as what we’ve discovered.”
He stated Wagner’s “unique story” was that he and Wooden had been speaking within the salon of their personal yacht throughout that fateful Thanksgiving weekend, after which Wooden went down beneath to their bed room alone.
“And the subsequent factor he is aware of, he goes and checks on her and she or he’s gone. And he figures she should have obtained within the dinghy and went into city — in her pajamas, in her socks, in the course of the evening, for some purpose,” he stated. “It’s raining out, (however) she’s going to go take the dinghy, which she by no means drives, most likely doesn’t know the best way to drive, and take it into city.”
Corina stated that since 2011, investigators have spoken with no less than two new witnesses who threw water on Wagner’s claims and truly corroborated the revised timeline from the yacht’s captain Dennis Davern.
The life and mysterious dying of Natalie Wooden
Davern initially instructed investigators a sanitized model of what occurred, main them to conclude after a two-week investigation in 1981 that Wooden unintentionally fell overboard and drowned whereas apparently attempting to safe or board a free dinghy.
Davern later instructed investigators he heard Wooden and Wagner concerned in an explosive argument at the start went silent and Wooden vanished. It was his revised model that prompted the renewed have a look at the case in 2011.
Corina stated Monday that when Davern allegedly advised to Wagner that they activate a search gentle to search for Wooden, Wagner allegedly stated no and stalled for time.
“As an alternative, he takes Davern as much as the highest of the boat and begins plying him with alcohol for the subsequent hour and a half, getting him drunk whereas they wait round to see what occurs,” Corina stated.
In hindsight, it “made completely no sense” that Wooden would flee the boat voluntarily in simply her nightgown, socks and a jacket “when it was raining out, and the seas had been actually tough, and you’ll’t even see at midnight,” he stated.
“I feel we now have a greater understanding now what occurred,” he advised.
In Wagner’s 2008 memoir, “Items of My Coronary heart,” the actor stated he and actor Christopher Walken had been consuming and arguing about Wooden’s profession through the trio’s Thanksgiving weekend getaway aboard the Splendour.
Wagner admitted he smashed a wine bottle and surmised that certainly one of two issues occurred to land his spouse within the water. Both she was “attempting to get away from the argument,” he wrote, “Or she was attempting to tie the dinghy” and fell.
“However the backside line is that no person is aware of precisely what occurred,” he wrote.
Corina stated Monday that Wooden nearly definitely would have requested Davern to assist with the dinghy if it was slamming in opposition to the aspect of boat, holding her awake.
He additionally questioned Wooden’s capacity to even drive the dinghy, which was later present in a cove with its motor within the impartial place.
“It didn’t make any sense. Nobody heard the dinghy begin up. Nobody heard the dinghy take off. She doesn’t drive the dinghy. I may go on and on. It didn’t add up,” he stated Monday.
Corina reiterated that Wagner has turn out to be “an individual of curiosity as a result of he’s the final individual along with her earlier than she went within the water.”
He stated his workplace already had acquired some new ideas because the case was featured on CBS’ “48 Hours” on Saturday.
He stated the community just lately reached out for brand new interviews concerning the case, and his workplace figured it will be a great way to name for extra witnesses.
“Time is our greatest enemy right here,” he stated, referring to the 36 years that have already got handed.
“We’re reaching out one final time see if anyone else will come ahead with info they know.”
A 12 months after the sheriff reopened the dying investigation in 2011, the Los Angeles County coroner’s workplace amended Wooden’s dying certificates, updating her method of dying from an unintentional drowning to “drowning and different undetermined elements.”
The post-mortem report indicated there have been quite a few bruises that seemed to be contemporary on the 43-year-old “West Facet Story” icon’s physique.
Davern stated in a 2011 assertion the Every day Information obtained that the couple had a “horrible argument” of their personal stateroom shortly earlier than Wooden disappeared.
“I heard issues — objects, probably individuals — hitting the partitions and issues being thrown on the ceiling,” Davern stated within the assertion.
He claimed Wagner then uttered the phrase, “Get off my f—ing boat.”
“Once I arrived on the rear, open deck, solely Robert Wagner was current,” he claimed.
Davern stated Wagner was “sweaty, flushed, anxious, nervous and matted,” as he stood close to the rear wall of the deck.
After the sheriff reopened the probe, investigators traveled to Hawaii and visited the Splendour with Davern, in keeping with Marti Rulli, his pal and co-author of the e-book “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour.”
“Dennis has simply been haunted with guilt because the day this occurred,” Rulli instructed The Information in a telephone interview reacting to the information Wagner is an individual of curiosity.
“He tried the whole lot to save lots of her. He wished to activate the search lights, name for assist. Wagner stated to depart her alone. Dennis knew higher, however this was an evening of heavy consuming. And he liked Wagner, too. He waited to see what was occurring,: she stated.
“I’ve stated the whole lot there’s to say,” Wagner stated final week when reached by The Information.
Wooden, who was born Natalia Zakharenko, was a baby star who grew to become a family title after showing within the basic movie “Miracle on 34th Avenue.”
She went on to star in “Insurgent With no Trigger” with James Dean and was in her second marriage to Wagner when she died.