Findings from a new Los Angeles County Coroner’s report into the death of Natalie Wood have concluded that bruising found on the actress could have occurred before she fell into the ocean, suggesting she may have been assaulted.
The report, which was released today, questioned the original 1981 investigative report’s findings that stated the actress died accidentally.
Bruises were found on Wood’s wrists, knees and ankles.
According to Fox News, the reports reads (in part):
“A few day old bruises were on the back of [her] right thigh and knee but there were fresh bruises and scratches to the right posterior leg.”
“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.”
Sources told the LA Times that the bruises were overlooked in the 1981 investigation, but Wood’s death will not be re-classified as a homicide.
Following the re-opening of Wood’s case in late 2011, in August 2012 Los Angeles County coroner’s officials modified Wood’s death certificate due to unanswered questions and conflicting accounts from witnesses.
The description of her death was altered from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
Wood died on November 28, 2011. At the time, her husband, actor Robert Wagner, told police authorities his wife had fallen off their yacht — the 60-foot-long Splendour — possibly while trying to re-tie a dinghy that had been banging against the side of the vessel.
According to Fox News, the 1981 report was re-opened after Splendour’s captain, Dennis Davern, told 48 Hours Mystery and the Today show that Wagner and Wood had argued on the night of her disappearance and that Wagner was to blame for her death.
In his 2008 memoir “Pieces of My Heart,” Wagner wrote that he had, in fact, argued with the actor Christopher Walken and stayed up that night. He said it was only later that he noticed his wife and a dinghy attached to the yacht were missing.
Wood’s body was later discovered floating in the waters off Santa Catalina Island, California. She was 43.
Los Angeles County Sheriff spokesman Steve Whitmore said Wood’s death continues to be an open investigation, but stressed that Wagner is not considered a suspect.
Nominated for three Academy Awards and the star of some of the most iconic films of the twentieth century — Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass, West Side Story, and Gypsy — Wood’s death remains a poignant mystery.