Natalie Wood's Cause of Death No Longer Ruled 'Accidental'
The death of actress Natalie Wood has been ruled to have resulted from "drowning and other undetermined factors," in a report filed Monday by Los Angeles County coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, after years of being ruled an accident.
On Nov. 28, 1981, the night of her death, Wood was on a weekend trip to Santa Catalina, Calif., with husband Robert Wagner and her Brainstorm co-star, Christopher Walken. Wagner and Walken had an argument, and when Wagner returned to bed, Wood was not to be found. He had believed that his wife had taken off on a smaller boat by herself, something she had done earlier in the trip.
According to Wagner's spokesperson at the time, after 10-15 minutes had passed, Wagner went out looking for Wood. Authorities eventually found her body in the water at 8:00am, one mile away from her boat with a dinghy beached nearby. An autopsy report later revealed that Wood had been excessively drinking and had painkillers in her system.
In his report, Sathyavagiswaran cited unexplained fresh bruising on the actress' right forearm, left wrist and right knee. He also made mention of a scrape on her forehead and a scratch on her neck. "This examiner is unable to exclude non-accidental mechanism causing these injuries," he said in the report. Officials close to the case believe the evidence suggests Wood was assaulted before drowning.
A law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that detectives might not ever obtain a conclusive verdict for this case as the "evidence is stale — with fading memories and incomplete forensics."
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