Natalie Wood: New death cause; no leads

Aug. 22, 2012 at 7:26 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A recent change in Natalie Wood's death certificate does not mean the actress' 1981 drowning was a homicide, law-enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.

The change in her cause of death from an accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors" is not expected to lead to new evidence or revelations in the case, the Los Angeles law-enforcement sources told the newspaper Wednesday. It simply reflects concerns about how complete the original investigation was, the sources told the newspaper.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Chief of Detectives William McSweeney said the case remained open, with "active and passive" periods of investigation. He declined to release further details.

Wood -- best known for her screen roles in "Miracle on 34th Street," "Splendor in the Grass," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "West Side Story" -- died by drowning at age 43 while on a weekend trip to Santa Catalina Island, Calif., with actor husband Robert Wagner, actor Christopher Walken and boat captain Dennis Davern.

Wagner and Walken told officials the couple had an argument the previous evening but things had calmed down.

Authorities said they found no one who said they saw how she entered the water.

Her body was discovered by authorities the next morning, Nov. 29, 1981, a mile away from the boat, with a small inflatable boat found beached nearby.

An autopsy report said Wood had bruises on her body and arms and a scrape on her left cheek. It also said she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14 percent and traces of two types of medication in her bloodstream -- a sea-sickness pill and a painkiller.

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