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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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Natalie Wood's travesty of justice: why Coroner Thomas Noguchi couldn't do more.

Because technically (medically) Natalie drowned, that had to be reported and documented as the official cause of death. Therefore, it would have been impossible for Noguchi to rule non-accidental without reason from the authorities to do so, although he could have ruled undetermined, which only would have raised a slew of media questions, and no one wanted that at the time. The vicious little "catch 22" was that the authorities needed more from Noguchi as well to finish their report differently than "accidental drowning."

What Noguchi should have done was to demand a psychological report. That would have required extensive interviews with everyone involved, even people on the outskirts of the tragedy. But, when Noguchi told the media about an argument on board the Splendour, the case detectives were infuriated, and Rasure didn't like being undermined. Immediately, when the truth of an argument was released by Noguchi, the detectives became enraged and sent a media statement undermining Noguchi's statement.

When writing Goodbye Natalie, I contacted D. P. Lyle, M.D., at the writers' forensic community Web site.
I presented Dr. Lyle with the basic information about Natalie Wood’s autopsy and asked his professional opinion. Dr. Lyle works primarily with authors of fiction, and, ironically, I sensed he knew that I was asking about the high-profile Natalie Wood case because he told me he wanted nothing to do with the case, especially because one of his neighbors was very good friends with Robert Wagner. I promised him I would not use his information in GNGS, and I asked him if he would at least explain to me his opinion on why Noguchi couldn't have done more. Dr. Lyle obliged me, and wrote:

A coroner must look for signs such as bruises, head bruises, or bruises on the shoulders, arms or legs, that would indicate if a victim had been injured, dragged, or held down, then homicide would be suspected. Bruises on the neck, shoulders, arms, or legs might indicate that the individual had been restrained or held underwater. Sometimes these bruises are in the pattern of fingers so that the coroner would know that someone indeed held the victim. But, each of these findings could also have innocent explanations and might not represent a homicidal occurrence. A bruise to the scalp could have occurred from an accidental fall in which the person then fell into the water. Or they could have struck their head in a fall and staggered to the water and fallen in and been drowned. Drugs and alcohol are often involved in accidental drownings. Bruises, even those that appear as if the person had been restrained, could have happened hours before the actual drowning event and that altercation could be completely unrelated to the drowning death. The bottom line is that the coroner often has difficulty in determining drowning as the actual cause of death and further difficulty in distinguishing between accidental, suicidal, and homicide as the manner of death.

Interestingly, Dr. Lyle helped more. He explained to me that Noguchi should have studied in much further detail to determine HOW Natalie acquired her bruises. I don't think Dr. Lyle bought the theory that she clung to the dinghy and acquired bruising by trying to mount it. In fact, by the time Dr. Lyle and I were done discussing all of the details of Natalie's situation, he wrote to me and gave his permission for me to use ANYTHING I wanted that he had discussed with me, which I did, but it was also another part the original editor's cut for space. I think it's extremely important to establish how as well as why Natalie's case fell through the cracks. It truly is one of the worst investigated cases in American history.


  1. It's like the hospital scene in JFK, when the head of the Navy surrounds the coroner and his staff in the examination room and states that nothing shall be permitted outside of "this room, ever."

    Not to say that Natalie was/wasn't as important as the President...but it's bad enough when a professional ducks out like this on a person, much less a celebrity.

  2. Let's not forget that Noguchi was fired! He said there was an argument aboard Splendour, and he was fired for saying so. Roger Smith was demoted with loss of pay and transferred when he spoke up about the 4-hour wait to call for professional help for Natalie. Marilyn Wayne was called "a fame-seeker" by Rasure when she called to let them know their timeline was way off.
    And Dennis Davern was called a liar by Rasure when he told the truth about the actual argument that transpired the night Natalie died. Utterly, shockingly AMAZING, isn't it?

  3. Marti, Those are the very reasons we can say there was never an investigation into Natalie's death. How could there have been?

    Who would have wanted the investigation to be over as quickly as possibe? Who had the most to gain by making sure Wagner didn't get into trouble? Who had the power (money) to do this?


  4. I was so naive about the ways of the world. I think it has only been in the last 5 years of my life that my eyes have opened and I can see the way things are really done.
    Political corruption is alive and doing very well here in America, and it would not surprise me in the least if it had a hand in the cover-up of Natalie's death.

  5. Kevin,
    I continue to be shocked by the details surrounding Natalie's case, especially with the cowardness involved for people who could make a difference to step up to the plate. I am still trying and always will. The right kind of help would be so appreciated. I"m SO grateful for all the support at this blog. It's just a blog, but it's so much more. Its meaning is essential to Natalie's case. Its supporters are doing more than they know. Thank you!

  6. A Psychological Autopsy is done to establish the state of mind of the deceased at or around the time of death. Insurance companies sometimes request these autopsies to rule out suicide as the cause of death before the pay on a policy. In Natalie's case they were going to try to establish why she felt the need to separate herself for the others by leaving the boat. That was what Noguchi wanted to look at. That tells me that he was having second thoughts about his own theories and about the investigation done by the police.

  7. Many feel that it was Frank Sinatra who called for Noguchi's resignation but there was a much more powerful force that called for Noguchi's dismissal, that being The Screen Actor's Guild. The SAG was furious at the way Noguchi violated the privacy of both Natalie and William Holden for the sake of publicity. The SAG felt that in both deaths the alcohol issue was played up more than it would have been if Natalie and Holden were private citizens.

  8. The SAG?! Now THAT's pathetic. Seriously, how old are all of these people? I swear, I've seen toddlers make more sense with more maturity.

  9. In their view they were looking out for their own. They were and are a very powerful union.

  10. Ah, covering your own crack in the name of decency, while someone's memory suffers...the American way.