At age 87, actor Robert Wagner has been declared a person of interest in the mysterious 1981 death of his wife, legendary actress Natalie Wood.
“As we’ve investigated the case over the last six year, I think he’s more of a person of interest now,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. John Corina, told 48 Hours.
Wood, a Hollywood icon who starred in such films as West Side Story and Gypsy, drowned on a weekend cruise aboard a boat called The Splendour, more than 36 years ago.
When the Los Angeles County Sheriff reopened the case six years ago, authorities said Wagner was not a suspect. But detectives are now telling 48 Hours‘ Erin Moriarty that they believe Wagner may be concealing something.
“I think it’s suspicious enough to make us think that something happened,” Lt. Corina added. “I don’t think she got into the water herself. I don’t think she fell into the water.”
A witness on another boat came forward in recent years, saying she heard Wagner and Wood arguing aboard The Splendour on the night she vanished and that she heard Wood crying out for help.
Inside Edition spoke to that witness, Marilyn Wayne, in 2012.
“She kept calling out, ‘Help me! Somebody please help me! I’m drowning!'” she recalled.
She added that “nobody responded” to the woman’s cries.
Cops also say a new analysis of bruises on Wood’s body suggests they were sustained before she went into the water. Investigators say the bruises are suspicious because they looks like that of an assault victim.
Wood’s death was ruled an accident, but the cause of death was changed to undetermined in 2011. Robert Wagner maintains it was a tragic accident, and that he was not involved in her death. In an interview, Wagner stated: “She slipped and hit the step and rolled in. That’s what we believe happened.” He also added “I went down below and she wasn’t there. The dinghy was gone. I looked around for her and I didn’t’ know where she was.”
“We were so in love and had everything and in a second it was gone,” he added.
Wagner has not commented on the new twist in one of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries.
“I think they are hoping that if anyone who has heard something, seen something, who hasn’t come forward, will,” Moriarty told Inside Edition.
The 48 Hours special, “Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water” airs Saturday night on CBS.