Natalie Wood’s death has been deemed “suspicious” by authorities after new witnesses came forward
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Natalie Wood’s death has been deemed “suspicious” by authorities after new witnesses came forward

Nearly 40 years after the tragic death of Hollywood actress Natalie Wood, new witnesses have emerged from her 1981 drowning, prompting Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators to declare her cause of death “suspicious.”

The news – reported by CNN and the Associated Press – comes hours after CBS News published a clip from the upcoming series titled 48 hours It was particularly noteworthy that Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. John Corina, when asked whether Wood’s widower, Robert Wagner, 87, was considered a suspect, replied that he was now considered “more of a person of interest” in the case.

Police initially classified Wood’s death as an accidental drowning, but the case was reopened in 2011. Wagner has long insisted he had no connection with her death and no charges were ever brought against her.

Wood died on November 29, 1981, near Catalina Island, California – her body was found floating in the water after disappearing after a night on a yacht with her husband. Splendor. Actor Christopher Walken, Wood’s costar in the film at the time, was also on board Brainstormand boat captain, Dennis Davern. She was 43 years old.

On Thursday, sheriff’s officials said in a statement that after reviewing more than 100 tips, they obtained new witness accounts: New York Times reported — accounts that “present a new sequence of events on the boat that night.”

According to the AP, one witness described hearing cracking sounds and screams coming from Wood and Wagner’s cabin. Separate witnesses heard a man and a woman arguing in the back of the boat. The voices probably belonged to Wood and Wagner.

Wagner has declined to talk to investigators since they began re-examining the circumstances of Wood’s death. His lawyer did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment Thursday.

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood in 1959Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood in 1959

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood in 1959

Wood was married to Wagner twice – first in 1957 (they divorced five years later), and then in 1972 until her death.

“I didn’t see him give details that would match the other witnesses in this case,” Corina said of Wagner on the show 48 hours. “I think he kept changing his story a little bit. And his version of events simply doesn’t add up.

The detectives he talked to 48 hours she noticed that there were many bruises on Wood’s body, which – according to her autopsy report – appeared to be new. “She looked like an assault victim,” said Ralph Hernandez, a detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

When asked if Wood’s death was a murder rather than a tragic accident, Corina replied: “I think it’s suspicious enough that we can think something happened.”

Robert Wagner and Natalie WoodRobert Wagner and Natalie Wood

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood

In Wagner’s 2008 memoir Pieces of my hearthe wrote that after a night of drinking, he got into an argument with Walken about Wood’s career.

At one point, the 87-year-old actor wrote: “I picked up a bottle of wine, threw it on the table and broke it into pieces.”

As for what caused her to fall off the boat, Wagner wrote that it was “all guesswork. Nobody knows. There are only two possibilities: either she was trying to escape from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the most important thing is that no one knows exactly what happened.”

In 2016, Wagner spoke to PEOPLE about his family’s heartbreak and his close bond with his stepdaughter and Wood’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner.

“We were all devastated by the loss and stuck together,” Wagner said. “My bond with Natasha is very, very intense. We have stuck together for years and she means the world to me.

The 48 hours the report includes the latest information from interviews with detectives and Wood’s sister Lana, as well as archival interviews with Wagner, Davern and others. The show’s attempts to obtain comment from Wagner and Walken were unsuccessful.

Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water will air on Saturday, February 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.