For those of us who pay close attention to the re-opened investigation into the death of Natalie Wood (she died 33 years ago this holiday weekend), the latest media flurry started with a cover story in the September 4 issue of Closer magazine. That interview with Natalie’s sister Lana was followed, earlier this month, by an emphatic open letter from Lana in the National Enquirer.
In the Closer piece, there was also some subtle framing offered up by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Lieutenant John Corina.
No matter what develops on the law enforcement front, there is guaranteed to be more attention on this matter generated next year, thanks to Marti Rulli. The New Jersey-based author, whose 2009 book and subsequent 2011 efforts sparked the re-opening of the investigation, tells FishbowlNY she has just completed the first draft of her Natalie Wood “continuation” book.
“In the three years since the Natalie Wood case was reopened,” Rulli says, “a full-fledged homicide investigation has left no stone unturned. And although a suspect has not yet been named, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department remains curious as to why Robert Wagner still refuses to talk with them.”
“Recently, the LASD lieutenant and Natalie Wood’s sister, Lana Wood, have “called Wagner out” in the media, but Wagner and his criminal defense attorney, Blair Berk, continue to claim Wagner has always cooperated with the investigation,” she continues. “Not true. Initially, in 2011, Wagner’s public statement was that he and his family welcomed the new inquiry into Natalie’s death. Then why, the LASD wants to know, has Wagner ignored numerous requests to talk?”
“I have learned that the LASD is convinced Natalie’s death was not an accident and they feel strongly about having a compelling circumstantial case strengthened by corroborating witness accounts as well as scientific, forensic evidence overlooked in 1981 autopsy.”
Rulli says that trial outcomes involving O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony and others have left prosecutors both frustrated and mindful of just how airtight a high-profile case must be. Especially in this case, when the California statute of limitations cancels out all but a first-degree murder charge.
“That does not mean there is not hope for Natalie receiving the justice she deserves,” Rulli insists. “I am hopeful that the Los Angeles District Attorney can make this a Grand Jury investigation, which would force Wagner to cooperate.”
Northpole, the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie featuring cameos by Wagner and wife Jill St. John as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, premiered November 15 and is set for its next airing on Thanksgiving Day morning. The couple recently spoke to Parade magazine podcaster Dr. Nancy Berk about the project and that famous photo of St. John, Stefanie Powers and Wood attending the same Hollywood ballet class.
[Jacket cover courtesy: Open Road Media]