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Wagner not a suspect in Wood's death

Nov. 18, 2011 at 4:08 PM

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. John Corina said Friday actor Robert Wagner is not a suspect in his wife Natalie Wood's 1981 drowning.

The sheriff's department said Thursday it is reopening the investigation into actress' death.

The star of "The Searchers," "Splendor in the Grass," "West Side Story," "Rebel without a Cause" and "Miracle on 34th Street" died when she was 43. Her death while boating off Santa Catalina Island with her husband Robert Wagner and her "Brainstorm" co-star Christopher Walken initially was ruled an accidental drowning.

However, many questions have been raised recently about the circumstances surrounding the incident. Lana Wood, the actress' sister, and Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht, requested the investigation be reopened more than a year ago, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Davern, the author of the 2009 book "Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendor," has said he believes Wagner is responsible for Wood's death.

He told CNN Friday Wagner waited hours to call the Coast Guard after Wood went missing following an argument with her husband. Davern also said Wagner coached those on board the yacht regarding what to tell authorities regarding the incident.

Wagner publicist Alan Nierob issued a statement to CNN Thursday saying the actor and his family "fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff's Department 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."

Asked at a news conference Friday whether Wagner is now a suspect, Corina said, "No," People.com reported.

"Already people are coming forwarding and wanting to talk to us," Corina said. "Recently, we have received information, which we felt was substantial enough to make us take another look at this case."

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