A former captain, who has co-authored a book on the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood in 1981, has come forward with allegations that her husband, actor Robert Wagner, was responsible for her death.
One day after the Los Angeles Times published a story outlining a new look into the actress’ death, Dennis Davern, who was the captain of the boat on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981, appeared on NBC’s early morning Today show and was interviewed by David Gregory.
Davern said he is now urging homicide investigators to look into Wood’s death. She had been boating with Wagner and her “Brainstorm” co-star Christopher Walken near Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California when she drowned.
“I made some terrible decisions and mistakes,” Davern said. “I did lie on a report several years ago. I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report.”
Davern said he believed Wagner had intentionally kept the investigation into her death low-profile. And when asked if he thought Wagner was “responsible” for Wood’s death, Davern said, “yes, I would say so. Yes.
“We didn’t take any steps to see if we could locate her,” he said. “I think it was a matter of, ‘We’re not going to look too hard, we’re not going to turn on the searchlight, we’re not going to notify anybody right now.’ ”
Many of the details he shared have appeared in the book “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,” by Marti Rulli, published in 2009.
“I’m not really the investigator here,” said Davern, “and I’m far away from even thinking about profiting over a 30-year anniversary. I’ve known this information for many, many years and my book has been out for two years. I’m not in it for any kind of profit, I’m in it for the justice of the whole situation.”
Davern also told why he would come forward 30 years later with new information when he could have told authorities much earlier.
“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.”
Davern admitted lying to investigators the first time. “At that time my life was just totally crazy, and I don’t think it was a time when I was even able to think straight.”
Wood was 43 when she died.