Robert Wagner Named ‘Person of Interest’ in Natalie Wood Drowning Case

Nearly 40 years after the mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators are naming her then-husband, Robert Wagner, as a person of interest.

“As we’ve investigated the case over the last six years, I think he’s more of a person of interest now,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant John Corina tells 48 Hours’ correspondent Erin Moriarty in a new interview. “I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”

Robert J. Wagner and Natalie Wood John M. Heller/Getty Images; Ron Galella/WireImage

The Rebel Without a Cause star, who once said she was “frightened to death by water,” drowned off the coast of Catalina Island in California in November 1981 after spending time on her family’s yacht with with Wagner, actor Christopher Walken and Captain Dennis Davern. She was found dead in the water at age 43. After a two-week investigation, her death was ruled an accident. The case was reopened in 2011, and the L.A. Coroner’s Office altered the death certificate in 2012. The manner of death was changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

During the initial investigations, the men said that Wood “took off in a dinghy and went ashore.” Since then, Wagner and Davern’s accounts have changed, investigators say.

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner outside La Scala restaurant in 1980 in Beverly Hills, California. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“I haven’t seen him tell the details that match all the other witnesses in this case,” Corina recalled of Wagner. “I think he’s constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don’t add up.”

Investigators also added that Wagner has refused to speak with them since the case was reopened. The 48 Hours interview special Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water airs on CBS Saturday, February 3, at 10 p.m. ET.

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