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One day after the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced that it would be reopening its case in the death of actress Natalie Wood, the captain of the boat from which the actress drowned in 1981 spoke on NBC’s Today.
Dennis Davern said that he lied to investigators about the actress’ mysterious death 30 years ago, and then alleged that Woods’ husband at the time, Robert Wagner, had something to do with her death, which had been classified as a tragic accident.
“I made some terrible decisions and mistakes,” Davern said on the show. “I did lie on a report several years ago.”
“I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report,” Davern added in the interview with NBC News’ David Gregory.
Wood died in 1981 at age 43 while boating off Santa Catalina Island, off the Southern California shore. She was with Wagner and Christopher Walken. The trio had dinner and drinks at Doug’s Harbor Reef and then continued drinking aboard the boat, where Wagner and Walken began arguing.
During the argument, Wood went to bed, and when Wagner came down to say goodnight, she was gone.
Speculation has it that she accidentally slipped and fell overboard. However, others have speculated that a lover’s quarrel between Wood and Wagner that had to do with Walken took place before the accident.
“Was the fight between Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner what ultimately led to her death?” NBC host Gregory asked during the interview on Friday.
“Yes,” Davern replied.
“Like I said, that’s going to be up to the investigators to decide,” he said. Davern alleged that Wagner purposefully kept the investigation of her death low-profile and did not do everything he could to find Wood once she went missing.
Gregory then pushed the point, asking, “Was he [Wagner] responsible for her death in some way?”
“Well, like I said, I think we all made mistakes that night and –,” Davern responded.
“Mr. Davern, that wasn’t my question. Was he responsible for her death? I’m not asking about your story,” said Gregory.
“Yes, I would say so. Yes,” Davern said.
A spokesperson for Wagner released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying that the family fully supports the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and “trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death.”
Davern was asked why he waited so long to come forward with this information.
“Why now is because I’ve been trying to tell information about this for many, many years, but there wasn’t really anyone listening until now,” he said.
“I’ve been trying to get somebody to listen for a long time and now somebody is listening and they’re going to carry on with this investigation. I’m not saying anything different. All the information that I’ve revealed in the past, it’s all in that book, and now it’s just up to the investigators to do an investigation,” he said.
He wrote a book, Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour, with his friend Marti Rulli. It was published in September 2009.
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