Vetting the Enquirer’s ‘New Natalie Wood Death Theory’

On the bottom, right-hand corner of this week’s National Enquirer cover sits the teaser for an explosive two-page item by Barry Levine, Patricia Shipp and Steve Herz. Inside and crowned at one layout-end by the illustration below, an unnamed source tells the publication that the re-opened investigation into the 1981 death of Natalie Wood has taken a new turn, based on information in the autopsy about urine levels found in the actress’ body.

After reading the full, print version of this “Exclusive Special Report,” FishbowlNY decided to check in once again with Marti Rulli, co-author of the book that started it all (Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour). She told us that two elements of the Enquirer article merit elaboration.

1) Natalie Wood May Have Been Unconscious Before Being in the Water

“That was determined from the new autopsy review, based on the amount of urine in her bladder and slight amount of froth in her lungs. Those findings suggest she was either unconscious or dead before being in the ocean.”

“That, of course, leads to the question – ‘How does an unconscious or dead body get itself into the water?’ The autopsy was, earlier, changed from accidental to undetermined because another review of Natalie’s body strongly indicates she was assaulted. Her bruises are consistent with being battered, or a struggle having transpired. Those are the main reasons Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) detectives will not close her case. They believe, with the witnesses who have come forward, and the scientific medical evidence now considered, that they have every reason to believe the case is solvable.”

2) Robert Wagner’s Claim to Investigators That He Has Cooperated with the Re-Opened Investigation and Has Nothing Left to Say

“That is a half truth, if even that. The new detectives on the case now know, through several witnesses, that an argument occurred right before Natalie died. This is something Wagner never fully explained to the original detective on the case, which is the extent of his “cooperation” – half truths in 1981.”

“Wagner did talk with the original detective on the case in 1981, but he has not cooperated with the new, reopened case. His claim (in two recent interviews with Charlie Rose and Larry King) that he has cooperated fully is an outright lie. He does not clarify that he has refused to talk with the new detectives investigating Natalie’s case since November 2011.”

“Upon the case being reopened in 2011, Wagner’s public statement was that he welcomed the new investigation, but he obviously had no intention of helping or shedding any light on what happened the night Natalie died. He still claims he “doesn’t know.” The detectives could tell him a lot about what they’ve learned, but he refuses to talk with them. He never even once called them to ask a question. He turned them away from his door. And, he hired a criminal defense attorney.”

“My sources very close to the LASD investigation tell me that Wagner in fact has not cooperated with the investigation and has refused to talk with the homicide detectives. They would very much like to opportunity to hear his side, and his refusal to cooperate with them is very suspicious behavior. It simply does not make sense if there is no culpability on his part concerning his late wife’s death.”

Finally, to all those who have or continue to cast aspersions on the veracity of Splendour Captain Dennis Davern‘s statements in the 2009 book and in subsequent interviews, Rulli has shared with us today an exclusive, additional bit of information. Davern passed a polygraph test administered through the LASD.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Author Campaigns to Have Natalie Wood Death Investigation Re-Opened
National Enquirer Publishes Explosive New Natalie Wood Claim
Natalie Wood Author Comments on Bombshell Tabloid Report

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