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A place to update and discuss facts surrounding the controversial, tragic death of legendary Hollywood film actress, wife and mother, Natalie Wood who drowned mysteriously Nov. 29, 1981 off Catalina Island. Thank you for visiting.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The very first report written of the Natalie Wood case ...

The following report by Investigator, Pamela Eaker, dated 11-29-81 was written at the scene of the body:

Descendent is actress Natalie Wood who along with her husband Robert Wagner, a friend, and the skipper of the Wagner boat, were spending the weekend at Catalina Island.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 29, 1981, sometimes after the group had returned to the boat, which was moored off the Isthmus, Mr. Wagner became aware that his wife and the boat’s dinghy were both missing. Mr. Wagner immediately radioed for help and a search was begun. Mrs. Wagner’s body was spotted from the air by a Sheriff’s Department helicopter that was enroute to the island to assist in the search. L.A. County Life Guards and the private searchers were the first ones to reach the body of Mrs. Wagner and pulled her from the water, where upon she was pronounced dead at 0744 hours.

Spoke with Don Whiting, night manager of Doug’s Harbor Reef, Catalina Isthmus, who related the following. Mr. Whiting arrived to work between 1600 and 1700 hours and the Wagner party was already in the bar and had been drinking. The party remained in the bar until approximately 1900 to 1930 hours at which time they were seated for dinner. Mr. Whiting estimates that the group consumed a couple bottles of champagne. Mr. Whiting says the group left the restaurant to return to their boat at approximately 2200 to 2230 hours and that the entire group appeared to him to be intoxicated. Mr. Whiting at this time called Kurt Craig of the Harbor Patrol and asked him to make sure that the group reached their boat safely, which Mr. Craig is reported to have done.

Spoke to Robert Wagner who related that the last time he remembers seeing his wife was at 2245 hours. Mr. Wagner, when he realized his wife was missing, placed a radio call for help.

Don Whiting heard Mr. Wagner’s radio call for help (Mr. Whiting lives on a boat and during his waking hours always monitors radio) at approximately 0130 hours and in turn called a friend on the Isthmus to go to the Wagner boat and advise him of the situation and if a search should be started.

When it was determined that indeed the dinghy and Natalie Wood were missing, a search was begun with Harbor Patrol, Bay Watch, private searchers, L.A. County Sherriff and U.S. Coast Guard all participating.

Mrs. Wagner’s body was found approximately 200 yards off the Blue Cavern Point, Isthmus area of Catalina Island, and north of where the dinghy was found, near the shoreline, a couple hours earlier.

Mr. Wagner was also questioned regarding the possibility of suicide, however he states that wife was not suicidal.

Don Whiting was one of the private searches (sic) who located the dinghy and says that the key was in the ignition, which was in the off position. The gear was in neutral and the oars tied down, and it appeared as if the boat had not been used.

Descendant’s body had been taken from the ocean and placed in the Hyperbaric Chamber building for safe keeping. Upon this investigation’s arrival at location, decedent observed lying in “stokes litter.” Decedent is wrapped in plastic sheet, she herself is dressed in flannel nightgown and socks. The jacket that she was wearing when found floating, is no longer on the body, having come off when she was pulled from the water. At time decedent was pulled from the water, sheriff’s personnel says that body was absent of any rigor and they noted foam coming from mouth. Decedent still has foam coming from mouth. Rigor is now present of a 3 to 4+ throughout her entire body. Decedent has numerous bruises to legs and arms. Decedent’s eyes are also a bit cloudy appearing. No other trauma noted and foul play is not suspected at this time. Skipper of the Wagner boat, Dennis Davern, identified body to sheriff’s deputies.

Please notify Detectives Rasher (sic) and Hamilton 1 HR. prior to post.  (end report)

NO FOLLOW-UP investigation proceded to learn if the information in Eaker's report was accurate, meaning it was accepted that a call was placed immediately upon learning Natalie was missing. In actuality, that call hadn't been placed for over two hours after Natalie was no longer on the boat, and the Coast Guard not notified until after 3:30 AM.   The official search did not immediately start with all the help Eaker noted in her report. She basically accepted anything she was told, and the detectives accepted this report, with no further investigation into establishing a legitimate, verified timeline.
Also, a report by Deputy R.W. Knoll of the Avalon's Sheriff's Department written Sunday, Nov. 29, 1981 at 6:30 a.m. claims he observed the broken wine bottle in the main salon of Splendour, but also moted that the Wagner stateroom had clothing and things like empty wine bottles scattered about the room. 
NOTE: (could the empty wine bottles scattered in the stateroom be what Davern heard hitting the walls as he overheard the argument that transpired in the stateroom?) 


  1. Marti, There was something terribly wrong with that entire investigation...if you can call it that. I don't understand any of it. Even accounting for the celebrity factor, it is all too suspicious.
    My Dad was a New York Detective, and he was involved in situations with some of the biggest names in the business. Sinatra and Eva Gardner, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton...but none of them ever got a free ride like Wagner got.
    My Father said, "Celebrity or not, the spouse is always the first person investigated when a wife or husband is found dead." A spouse was always thoroughly investigated.
    The men that investigated Ms Wood's death have a lot to answer for. This is no joking matter...Ms Wood's life was cut short at the age of 43 years old, and under extremely suspicious conditions.

  2. I watched Dateline tonight and it aired two murder cases, BOTH committed by THE SPOUSE. One murderer was a wife and the other a husband. Jealousy was not involved. The husband was simply an evil-minded jerk.
    The wife murderer wanted to live the high life and prefered a husband who made more money so she and her lover killed her husband who was an L.A. police officer. It took a few years but they nabbed the widow and her new husband and both received life sentences.

    But I watched L.A. detectives who cared in interviews and one said 90% of all murders are committed by spouses or loved ones in the family. How depressing yet revealing is that?

  3. What I find SO upsetting in this report by Eaker is the 'absense of any rigor'when she was pulled from the water. She was alive probably far longer after entering the water. Can you imagine the terror she had to endure while Wagner squandered those prescious hours! Marti, can you check out the comments about Wagner on GMA 092308 and comment?

  4. Deborah,
    I'll look at the GMA video again today. The new information for the paperback is so disturbing. I am sorry I did not have these details and facts before the hardback was released.

  5. what do you think about what I said regarding my possible scenario of what may have happened in the cockpit for her to then end up in the water, does it sound plausible to you...

  6. Marti,I know you haven't wanted to take on Rasure and the rest,but what is your opinion? If you are uncomfortable answering this I understand.


  7. One other interesting thing...well at least I find it interesting. In Wagner's book "Pieces of my Heart" and Lambert's book " Natalie Wood - A life" they both give the same wrong date when Natalie and Robert Wagner (notice Natalie dosen't need a last name) presented the 1972 Award for best actor to Marlon Brando. Both books say it was April 1972, but it was April 1973 given for the 1972 movie...Interesting???

  8. Kevin, I believe Wagner was a major source for Lambert's book, thus the same mistake would be made over and over until someone corrected them on it. It astounds me that NONE of Natalie's closest friends have stood by her memory and dignity by asking for a review of her death. She was so kind and generous and helpful to all of them, and she yet the only person to stand by her has been her sister Lana and we all have seen what Lana has had to endure for doing so. Make no mistake about it, Lana loved her sister more than anyone on earth with the exception ofher own daughter. Lambert and Wagner have dragged Lana through the mud. She doesn't deserve it. These people who come on the scene and make insulting generalizations about Lana...they don't know the half of it.

  9. Deborah,
    Your scenario is very possible but because when Natalie was first on the deck, she was wearing only her nightgown, it doesn't make sense she would retrieve her jacket then resume the fight on the deck. In my most honest scenario, I think the argument got out of hand in the stateroom (there were things being thrown around and screaming) and when it broke out to the back deck, I doubt Natalie went to her stateroom to get a jacket...if she went back in it would've been to get off the wet deck and take the argument back inside.... so maybe the two of them went back in and this is when a "get off my boat" thing started...or maybe the jacket had been carried out when the argument first broke out to the back deck... it's a piece of the puzzle we can only surmise about. But she was not wearing the coat when the argument carried over to the deck, and Dennis believes the coat was somehow used to make it APPEAR that Natalie had left the yacht, and that's where the critical thinking comes in. These are things Dennis was too shocked and confused to think about the "night of" but he sure thought a lot about it after hearing he had to go identify Natalie. It's all so terribly sad, and it all happened very fast....all within minutes, and because Marilyn heard the cries at 11:05 that means the fight in the stateroom and on the deck all happened within 15 minutes from Wagner entering the stateroom. Had Dennis gone to deck maybe even just one mintue earlier, he may have heard the cries for help. Dennis knows for certain, that at 11:00 PM to 11:06 PM, that fight was going strong....but he waited about 10 more minutes to go down.

  10. You are right, Marti! I've been rereading Lambert's book since GNGS, and the remarks he makes about Natalie are degrading--it is a cheap biography at best.
    For instance, the whole ongoing story about Natalie's real father...where does he get the proof for this? The caption under a picture of Natalie and her Father dosen't say that ..it says "Natalie with Nick Guridn." That's is not right, and I think it was meant to offend Lana Wood.
    He has Natalie jumping in and out of bed so much, it's a wonder she had time to make movies.
    However, Wagner comes off as totally devoted to Natalie and devastated that she left him back in 1962. Poor Bob...he was dealing with a "fractured Natalie." What the hell does that mean? She was a young woman trying to balance a major movie career with a weirdo husband.
    How different it reads now, knowing what actually took place the night we lost Natalie.
    Wagner would sanction a book that degrades Natalie at every turn? Now, I understand.

  11. Kevin,
    Suzanne Finstad for her bio, "Natasha" had no agenda. She wanted to write a truthful bio on a legend (wondering all along why no one had done it yet!) and wouldn't you think that's the kind of author ALL of Natalie's friends and family would have wanted to cooperate with? But, no. Finstad was sent packing by many of them on "word" from Wagner to "stay away" -- for what purpose? The purpose was to stay away from Natalie all together because when Natalie is the subject, her death is always the focus, and that's because the going explanation for her death is one hugh LIE. Wagner wanted to control EVERYTHING ever told about Natalie, and maybe he was able to control it for a while with his grieving widower dramatics, but no one can control a legend.

    It totally floors me how anyone cannot see this. The agenda of Lambert's book is as obvious as a sunrise on a clear summer day -- unless one is blind.

    Natalie's father is Nick Gurdin. Funny how we haven't heard anything more about that since Lambert's book: no DNA proof, no effort to support the fabrication, nothing. Sadly, sometimes all that's needed is a rotten seed to be planted, and the obsessed grow it from there. That's scarier than the innuendo itself.

    Natalie did not get drunk and accidentally fall off a boat. She was not performing any boat chores that night, either. The truth is available for those interested in truth.

  12. "Natalie did not get drunk and accidentally fall off a boat. She was not performing any boat chores that night, either."
    Marti, it was this statement, or one similar to it that you said months ago, when I was just starting to understand the book, GNGS, that made me get it.
    I think you added something like "She was not doing anything with the dinghy that night...she was getting ready for bed."
    That simple statement really hit home with me after reading the book and trying to put it all together. Your statement got to the point, but it said so much more in those few words. I think it was when I really understood all of the lies that Wagner, and others concocted.

  13. Every time that I see or hear Wagner, I just get furious. Of course, his piddly little book came out before GNGS did, and I had NO clue what his real role in Natalie's death was. I was always suspicious because NO account ever made sense until GNGS. However, I did not imagine that he did what he did. I didn't fathom that it was THAT sinister, but I felt there was more to it.

    I would've liked to have asked Wagner at his book signing near my home, "Why is Natalie left out of your dedication?" He probably would've gotten that bothered look on his face--what would he have said? Would I have been hustled out of the line? What would have happened?

    As angry as I feel toward Wagner, I do not wish him harm or ill will. No, I firmly believe that, even if he doesn't end up answering to what he did in this world, there will be a day that his little theories and fabrications and innuendo will not fly to the person asking them.

  14. Hi Marianne,
    I know how you feel. There was no need to leave Natalie out of that dedication, and I would hope that even Jill would've understood it, especially after he uses the book to create an entire different image of his love for Natalie. In his book he talks more about the real Natalie and not the "fractured, drug-taking, suicidal, depressed Natalie who didn't know what to call herself in Lambert's book, but Wagner had everything to do with BOTH books. Even the story changes about the night of Natalie's death in his book. In Lambert's book he hadn't seen her after the wine bottle smashing. In his book he claims to have seen her brushing her hair while wearing her nightgown. I suppose that was a little detail he realized he had never cleared up, so added it to his latest version. The authorities never heard any of the details he saved for HIS book, 26 years later in an attempt to create an image that he loved her far too much to ever have been a part of her death.

    Fact is, from the moment they stepped onto the Splendour to start the cruise, he made each minute miserable for everyone. From the bottle smashing on, he is the only one who saw Natalie as he was with her the entire time.

    I do not tell these details because I wish harm to him or ill-will, either. I tell it only because Natalie deserves the truth attached to her legacy. Let "truth chips" fall where they may.
    It may appear to many that no one is paying attention to this book, but nothing could be further from the truth.

  15. If anything, I just want him to be remembered as Natalie Wood's killer, not her "widower"

  16. Did the report really say "descendent"? And then "descendant" later in the report? This woman was employed to write reports like this and she didn't know the difference between "descendant" and "decedent"? That was the first thing that caught my eye and made me think this woman didn't know her stuff.

    from KB