Who Killed Natalie Wood?

One of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries is re-opening, with homicide detectives revealing that they are taking a fresh look at what really happened on the night Natalie Wood drowned. Keep reading the article below to learn more about Who Killed Natalie Wood.


Captain Dennis Davern has long claimed that the official account of what happened is a lie, most recently in a Vanity Fair article and in numerous TV interviews.

1. Captain Dennis Davern

In her heyday, Natalie Wood was a movie star who was loved by millions. She starred in movies that ranged from romantic comedies to dramas, and her audiences looked up to her as an icon of beauty and grace. But just like any other person, she had her ups and downs. Her career was not always successful, and her private life seemed rocky. She was often high-strung and neurotic, and she had a particular fear of being alone at night that dated back to childhood.

Then in 1981, at age 43, she died from a mysterious drowning on her boat. The initial investigation ruled it an accident, but bruises were discovered on her body, and some of the circumstances surrounding her death are still murky. Her husband Robert Wagner has long been suspected of involvement, but he maintains his innocence.

Davern, a former navy veteran who had spent his entire life around the sea, was the captain of the yacht from which Wood disappeared. He recently appeared on NBC’s Today, and he claimed that he had been untruthful during the original investigation into her death. He also suggested that Wagner had something to do with her death, and he accused him of lying during his testimony.

On the day of the disappearance, Davern had been sailing with Wood and recent Oscar winner Christopher Walken aboard the Splendour, which belonged to Wagner. Davern recalled that when they arrived in Isthmus Cove, Wood and Walken went to their staterooms for naps while he and Wagner stayed in the main salon. After a few hours, they woke up and began drinking alcohol.

At one point, he claims that Wood and Wagner got into an argument about money. He said that she then left to go back to her stateroom, and he heard them arguing in their room before everything went quiet.

Davern also told TMZ that he had spoken with several other people who witnessed the argument and that they all corroborated his account of what happened that night. He also said that he had passed a polygraph test. He is now a business owner in St. Augustine, Florida.

2. Robert Wagner

Actors and other celebrities often find themselves in the public eye and often find themselves involved with controversies. And that was certainly true in Natalie Wood’s case. The actress was always at the center of gossip and rumors, even after her death.

Wagner married Wood in 1957, divorced her five years later, and remarried her in 1972. They were on a yacht with her co-star Christopher Walken the night she drowned, and according to the captain of the boat they had an explosive argument.

The bruises on her body seemed to indicate that she had been assaulted, and the coroner’s report listed unexplained fresh bruising and scrapes on her. But there never seemed to be enough evidence to hold anyone accountable. The original cause of death was listed as accidental drowning, but in 2012 it was changed to undetermined factors.

Throughout the years, police have tried to interview both Wagner and Walken for more details, but both of them refused. Wagner has published a memoir, Pieces of My Heart, in which he explains that he and Wood were having an argument that evening and she walked off to go sleep while he was still angry. He claims she accidentally slipped off the Zodiac dinghy and fell into the water, but in 2000, Vanity Fair reported that his first interview with police was cut short because he had been crying.

Police have also questioned Wood’s sister, Lana, and found that her story of the night she died has remained consistent. Lana also reveals in her book that she was always very protective of her sister and didn’t like it when Wagner or her Hollywood friends would visit and swim at their house.

In 2018, detectives reopened their investigation and called Wagner a person of interest in Wood’s death, but he has continued to refuse to talk to authorities. Walken, on the other hand, has cooperated with investigators and says he doesn’t think Wagner had anything to do with her murder. But investigators haven’t ruled out that Wagner might know more than he’s letting on.

3. Christopher Walken

In life, Natalie Wood rubbed shoulders with the Hollywood elite, acting alongside such icons as John Wayne and Gene Kelly. In death, she became one of the biggest mysteries in Tinsel Town, her death a lonely and sordid end for someone who seemed like a solid good-hearted person who had made many classics during her long career.

Her husband, Robert Wagner, and the captain of the boat she was sailing on that fateful weekend have shifted their accounts of what happened, raising suspicions of foul play. However, there has never been any direct evidence against Walken. The actor has maintained an alibi and consistent statements about what happened to his co-star and friend.

Walken was a close friend of Wood’s, and the two were collaborating on MGM’s sci-fi movie Brainstorm at the time of her death. While the film wasn’t a box office smash, it was a well-regarded project that was still in production as of her death. In a 1997 interview with Playboy, Walken opened up a little about what had gone on that night and offered his theory on how Wood ended up in the water.

He said that the couple and the crew of the Splendour had been drinking at a restaurant and on the boat. He said that after they had finished eating dinner, the three of them started to argue over something. He said that he believed that was the last thing he saw of Wood. He said that she went back to her cabin and shut the door.

Then, she slipped out of the cabin and into the water. He said that he didn’t see her resurface and assumed she was drowned. He told Playboy that he thought that Wood hit her head and then just floated away, but this was only his theory. He didn’t say much more about the matter in the years that followed.

4. The Coast Guard

On November 29, 1981, Natalie Wood went out on a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and his colleague from the movie Brainstorm, Christopher Walken. She had been drinking with both of them on the night before her death.

The circumstances surrounding her death were a mystery. The only evidence was her body, found hours later floating in a cove on Catalina Island dressed in a nightgown, socks and a parka. She had a dozen bruises on her arms, knee and neck. It’s believed that those bruises happened before she fell into the water.

As the years passed, many conspiracy theories emerged. Some alleged that Wagner had murdered his wife. Others speculated that she had been the victim of a brutal assault. Regardless of who killed her, one thing was clear: She had no friends or family to turn to for help. She had been abused and exploited by directors, studio executives and men who she trusted. She had also been abandoned by her daughter from her first marriage and the two daughters she had with Wagner.

In 2011, after 30 years, Los Angeles county sheriff’s officials reopened their investigation into her death. In 2012, county coroner’s officials changed her cause of death from accidental drowning to undetermined factors. The reason, investigators were told, was that they couldn’t rule out assault as the cause of those two dozen bruises on her body.

During the reopened investigation, new witnesses came forward to say that Wagner and Wood had a blazing argument on the boat before she disappeared. A CBS 48 Hours special aired last weekend claimed that police had new information that Wagner was considered a person of interest (although he was not a suspect) because two people who knew them could vouch that the pair had an argument.

Whether or not those new details prove anything, it’s unlikely that anyone will be charged in her death. The statutes of limitations have long expired on all possible charges, including murder. The documentary focuses on the personal side of her life, with her daughters speaking passionately about how much they loved their mother/stepmother and the pernicious way her private funeral was interrupted by the media.