Natalie Wood death under new suspicion

Natalie Wood starred in "West Side Story" in 1961.
Natalie Wood starred in "West Side Story" in 1961.

Actress Natalie Wood suffered fresh scratches and bruises before she landed in the Pacific Ocean and drowned, according to a new review of the 1981 coroner's report that casts further doubt on the original accidental death ruling.

A new supplemental report released Monday reveals new details about the revisions to Natalie Wood's coroner's report, offering further explanation into why her official cause of death was changed from "accidental" to "undetermined" in July.


The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the case in 2011 that originally determined Wood had died of accidental drowning after falling overboard the boat belonging to her husband, Robert Wagner, near Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California on Nov. 29, 1981.

The new report, released Monday, said the coroner's new review of the autopsy could not verify that the pre-mortem scratches and bruises were caused by a fall off a dinghy or an attempt to climb back into the boat, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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"The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to the entry into the water," said Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, in a supplemental report filed June 15, 2012.


"Since there are many unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this Medical Examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined."

The report found there were conflicting statements about the moments before and after Wood went missing, whether she argued with Wagner and what time she disappeared. An examination of her stomach contents suggested she died around midnight, but she wasn't reported missing until after 1:30 a.m.

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Since the dingy could not be reexamined for scratches, the coroner said he could not determine whether she attempted to climb back in.

Christopher Walken and the boat's captain were also on board when Wood disappeared. Wagner and Walken got into a heated argument over Wood's career; it remains unclear if Wood herself was involved in the argument.

Wood went to the master's cabin alone while the two men were still fighting, and Wagner says she had disappeared by the time he went to bed.

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The theory--at least the one that doesn't accuse Wager of murdering his wife--is that the dinghy came loose and Wood fell overboard while trying to refasten it.

Natalie Wood coroner's report by


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