I am glad that there are enough people who care about this case to post comments in a forum like this...it is an important case involving one of the most famous women of the 20th century and worthy of intelligent discussion not ranting and schoolyard bullying. If anyone has any important information, please post it here. I'm sorry I haven't checked back in a few weeks, I've been very busy.
With respect to the comment that LASD didn't believe the boat captain's story, according to CNN, the authorities have yet to re-interview any of the survivors on the boat that night. http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/11/justice/california-natalie-wood/index.html?hpt=ju_t2ttp:// This article was from last January, however and things may have changed since then. LASD reopened the investigation based on a petition given to them by Marti Rulli, I believe. You can read the 20 page document here: http://tmz.vo.llnwd.net/o28/newsdesk/tmz_documents/1117_declaration.pdf I also find it curious that CBS has taken down the 48 Hours Mystery episode from its's website featuring the Natalie Wood case last November. If anyone finds the episode elsewhere, can you please post it here? I just watched it a few weeks ago, the day that I posted my last comment here.
Do I believe the boat captain's story? Yes, I do, but I have questions. Why did Davern tell Lana Wood in the 1980's that he saw Natalie in the water that night? If he did not tell Lana that story, why would she lie? Additionally, it is difficult to believe that he wouldn't have run to the cops the minute they arrived on the boat that morning. He was the only witness to a probable homicide and I for one, would have been in fear for my life. I do believe he was concerned for Natalie's children, however, one must look out for their own safety and tell the truth, especially in a case of this magnitude. I would have quit my job on the spot and spilled my guts to the police immediately. There is no way in hell I would have given Wagner, a homicidal madman, a free pass.
That said, there are far too many damning details that contradict Wagner's version of events. Davern's statement is supported by both the witness on the other boat and inadvertantly, by the statement Christopher Walken gave to police that morning and that he later changed in 1997. If Walken went to bed and didn't get up until the next morning which is what he told police in 1981 and is backed up by Davern's story, how could he have been up talking with Wagner while Natalie went off the bed by herself which is the story he has always given? Wagner again changed his story in an interview with CBS in 2008 when he said he was talking with Walken and went to check on Natalie and saw her fixing her hair in the bathroom and shut the door and then went back awhile later and found her missing. It doesn't add up.
Another question is the dinghy..who untied it? There are only 2 possibilities. If we do some common sense deduction here, Natalie would have been the least likely to have untied it. Davern was an employee who's job description was not only boat captain, but boat caretaker, guy Friday, babysitter, handyman and anything else the Wagners could think of. Why on earth would Natalie, who was deathly afraid of the water, untie the dinghy when she had an employee on board who could do it for her? She didn't think twice about asking Davern to fetch her a cup of tea at midnight, but she would do a messy, physical job with elegantly manicured nails in the rain and cold? If Natalie did not untie the dinghy, Wagner is the only other one who did. Why did he? That seems to support a case for premeditation there.
I know that Natalie drank a lot of wine that night, but no more than any other Splendour outing. Here is a story written by Natalie's friend, Thomas Thompson and published in People magazine in 1981 after her death, where he references a Splendour outing that he attended and where much wine flowed: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20080951,00.html Wagner was the one who was an experienced boater, Natalie and RJ went on their first honeymoon to Catalina Island in 1957 on R.J.'s boat. Natalie was terrified of the ocean. Who seems more likely to have untied the dinghy?
The other thing to take into consideration is that the Splendour is high off the water, it's impossible to fall overboard even if piss drunk. The only way to fall off is from the swim step. Natalie would in all likelihood have avoided the swim step, wine or no wine, at all costs. Here is a tour of the Splendour the present owner gave to a local Hawaii TV station shortly after this story broke in November: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjJ4-s-JkWI&feature=player_embedded
With respect to the accusations that Marti Rulli and Dennis Davern are trying to cash in on the story and are making the whole thing up, again I point to the details never before released to the public and there have been other journalists that have come to a similar conclusion. Geraldo Rivera did a TV special in 1991 that concluded that foul play was probably involved and that the answers lie with the boat captain. A writer for Vanity Fair, Sam Kashner wrote an article in 2000 that concluded that Natalie's death was the final act in weekend of drinking and jealousy. And a biographer, Suzanne Finstad wrote a book about Natalie in 2002 that pointed to foul play as well. Notwithstanding the tabloids that have put phony stories out there for years such as a fifth female stoaway on board or that Natalie faked her own death and is living in Mexico under an assumed name, these other journalists have done their own investigations and not accepted Wagner's official story.
Finally, I know that the statute of limitations has run out on everything except Murder 1 and unless the authorities can make a strong case, Wagner will be off the hook. I believe it was 1st degree murder, however I don't know what kind of case could be made after all this time. I hope that Natalie's sister or daughters will bring a civil case against Wagner, but in any case, he should have to wear the scarlet letter of a killer for whatever time he has left. His public image meant more to him than his wife or daughters, or Natalie's fans enjoying years more of her work, let it be shattered for all time.
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