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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.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Natalie Wood "Time of Death"

After more research about a medical examiner's part in an "investigation" I've learned that it is definitely NOT the coroner's job to make determinations about the actual scene of an investigation, so I understand a little more now why Noguchi met with such opposition after announcing the argument aboard the Splendour.
My belief is that Noguchi may have suspected the bruises on Natalie's body and was putting the argument out there for considereation. Sadly, it backfired.

Also, the most difficult task for ANY coroner is to determine or estimate actual time of death (TOD) especially when the body temperature is the most reliable way to determine.

In Natalie Wood's case, having been in near 58 degree water for hours, and not immediately transported for examination, her body temperature was not a reliable way to determine TOD.

Rigor mortis sets into the human body within 12 hours of death. It is a tightening of the muscles. After about 72 hours - it goes away.  Other criteria must be considered. Natalie was found with no rigor.  

Muscles, which make up 50 percent of our body weight, produce 73 percent of our heat during work. Short bursts of hard physical effort can generate tremendous amounts of heat, so if Natalie tried to get to shore, she would have generated heat to help keep her alive. Her feet, being most exposed to the cold water. may have numbed first with the onset of hypothermia and she may have used her arms more than her feet (thus, the socks remained on her feet). Hypothermia is defined as having a core body temperature less than 95 degrees, so we know Natalie most instantly started to deal with the effects of hypothermia.

But an insulated body that’s wrapped in something cools slower than one that’s completely exposed. Natalie's coat that helped her float may also have helped her to live longer by providing insulation.

The rate of the cooling water also affects other “after death” processes, such as rigor mortis—heat speeds up rigor and cold slows it down. 

Roger Smith, who says Natalie's body appeared as if death had occured shortly before being found, had experience in drowning deaths. His professional experience could have been a valuable help to the medical examiner's office, but Roger was never interviewed by detectives or by the medical examiner's office.

Although cold water can slow the process of rigor, there are other factors involved that help determine TOD. Rigor mortis comes from lack of calcium binding in the muscle. It would not increase swelling, but the body being in the water would increase swelling had a body had been floating NOT alive for hours. Natalie had NO SWELLING. With hestitation because of how weird it sounded to say, Roger told me, "Natalie looked beautiful" when he pulled her from the ocean.

We know Natalie went into the water a few minutes after 11:00 PM, Saturday night, Nov. 28th, 1981. She was pulled from the ocean at 7:45 AM, Sunday. She was found floating in her jacket, in "beautiful" condition. (And THAT'S as weird for me to say as it was for Roger, but it is EVIDENCE that this woman probably fought ferociously to remain alive.) 

I am totally an amateur in medical expertise but I've read enough medical records about drowning deaths to know that Natalie deserved a more extensive medical investigation. "Unknown cause" for her bruises was enough to demand it!  We hope to soon have a professional, expert coroner look over Natalie's autopsy and re-evaluate its criteria.


  1. It's just heart breaking to think and feel what she was going through, it's just makes me sick to know Wagner did this to her and know one back then cared there was NO justice for Natalie. I pray there will be soon.

    I just got home last night from my driving trip to Nebr and I listen to Natasha again on my way home.

    Thanks, Pam

  2. That is why so many people were so pissed at Noguchi, he over stepped the boundaries of his job in announcing the press conference that there was an argument. That press conference was to announce the official cause of death. He went beyond that. He grandstanded. That was the job of the police, not the coroner. Even the results of the toxicological testing did not belong in that press conference unless he could say for certain that it was the cause of death. He could not say as such because he said that Natalie was "tipsy". He had no idea how she died, it was all based on his own theories. His unprofessional behavior contributed to the shabby investigation done by Rasure.

  3. Really good info. It does seem like she lived a long time in the water. It's heartbreaking. She probably thought (or prayed) that *someone* would find her alive. If any of us at your blog could go back in time to help her, I'm sure we all would.