Walken: Went to bed, awoke to learn of Wood death

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It is Davern’s latest attempt to change the official account of what happened in the hours before Wood’s death.

“Was the fight between Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner what ultimately led to her death?” show host David Gregory asked.

“Yes,” Davern replied.

“How so?”

“Like I said, that’s going to be up to the investigators to decide,” the captain said after a long pause.

Davern said he believes Wagner had intentionally kept the investigation into Wood’s death low profile and didn’t do everything he could have done. When Gregory pressed Davern for supporting details, the captain said that was the duty of investigators.

Davern has said for years that the official account of Wood’s disappearance was not what really happened, including in a 1992 appearance on a Geraldo Rivera special and in a 2000 Vanity Fair piece. He also worked with author and friend Marti Rulli on “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,” a book released last year.

Wagner spokesman Alan Nierob said Friday a statement he released Thursday spoke for itself. The statement read: “Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff’s department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her tragic death.”

Davern denied he was motivated to speak out for profit.

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Thursday the renewed inquiry was prompted by unspecified new information about Wood’s case. The Los Angeles Times reported that Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca said detectives want to talk to Davern and that he had “made comments worthy of exploring.” The paper said the agency had also received information from an unidentified third party.

In the Vanity Fair story, Davern is quoted as saying that Wood and Wagner fought in their cabin before the actress disappeared. Coroner’s officials ruled her death an accidental drowning, perhaps caused by her slipping off the boat while trying to tie down a dinghy.

She was found wearing a flannel nightgown, socks and a red down jacket and Davern identified her body for authorities, according to an autopsy report. Her body had superficial bruises, according to the report, but those were considered consistent with drowning.

Her death sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved, but Wagner and Wood’s sister have dismissed any suggestion the actress’ death was anything more than an accident. Coroner’s officials at the time agreed, writing that Wood was “possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.”

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the agency hadn’t been asked to do any additional investigation into Wood’s case.

Sheriff’s officials are also hoping for tips from the public that may shed new light on how Wood, who was afraid of being in the water, ended up drowning.

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