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The Los Angeles County coroner’s office released a new report Monday revealing that Natalie Wood’s death certificate was amended based on unanswered questions regarding bruises on her upper body, while several pieces of evidence were lacking. Coroner’s officials could only conclude that Wood drowned under undetermined circumstances on Nov. 29, 1981.
In a 10-page addendum to Wood’s autopsy report, L.A. County coroner’s officials state that some of the bruises might have occurred before Wood entered the water, but it could not be definitively determined, according to The Associated Press.
The investigation into the actress’ death was reopened more than a year ago, but officials thus far have been unable to answer lingering questions regarding the circumstances of her mysterious drowning off the coast of Catalina Island. In late 2011, Wood’s death certificate was amended to change her cause of death from drowning to “drowning and undetermined factors.” The certificate also was changed to state that the circumstances of how Wood ended up in the water were “not clearly established.”
Wood was aboard a yacht off Catalina Island with husband Robert Wagner and her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken before entering the water.
A Sheriff’s Department spokesman said that Monday’s report, released after a security hold and revealing the reasons for the alterations, has not changed the ongoing status of the case.
The autopsy details bruises on both of Woods’ arms, a small scratch on her neck and superficial abrasions on her forehead, left brow and cheek.
“The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water,” the report states. “Since there are 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 also notes that Wood — a three-time Oscar nominee who starred in such films as West Side Story, Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass and Miracle on 34th Street — was not wearing a life jacket and had no history of attempting suicide, nor did she leave a suicide note. She died at 43.
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