Natalie Wood Case: Captain Who Claims Robert Wagner Silenced Him Passed Polygraph Test

The boat captain who claims Robert Wagner silenced him on the night Natalie Wood drowned off the California coast has passed a lie detector test.

The actress's death was ruled accidental, after a controversial investigation. But after 30 years in Hollywood infamy, the 1981 case was reopened last week.

Howard Temple, who administered the polygraph test, told HuffPost that "there was no question that he [Davern] was being up-front and straight" when he took the 2008 test.

Statements appeared truthful that Davern heard Wood and Wagner arguing on board The Splendour, as did Davern's assertion that Wagner, Wood's husband, told him not to turn on the boat's search light when the 43-year-old actress couldn't be located on board, Temple said.

According to Temple, there was no sign Davern lied when he claimed that Wagner told him not to tell anyone -- including police -- about what happened on the yacht over Thanksgiving weekend.

Temple, who founded Accredited Polygraph Services in 1971, shared his results with "Good Morning America" and then spoke to The Huffington Post.

Davern submitted to several hours of tests by Temple in the summer of 2008, because he was working on a memoir about the mysterious death of the Oscar-nominated actress on a boozy night near Santa Catalina.

Many states do not allow polygraph results to be submitted as evidence in court.

"He did not actually see the drowning," Temple said. "He just heard the commotion."

The book "Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendor" came out in 2009, but there's renewed interest in Davern's account of a half-hearted rescue effort and subsequent coverup, because the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the investigation into Wood's death.

Wood is best remembered as Maria in "West Side Story" and as James Dean's costar in "Rebel Without a Cause."


Mysterious Hollywood Deaths -- Natalie Wood

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Two chapters of the book concern the polygraph tests, and Temple said that Davern and co-author Marti Rulli accurately wrote about the results.

In the months after Wood died, Temple said that Davern "was controlled by Robert Wagner." He lived in Wagner's home, spoke to the actor's lawyers and didn't leave the grounds without a bodyguard.

The homicide bureau lieutenant heading the case said that Wood's drowning is still considered accidental and that Wagner is not a suspect.

Lt. Corina refused to tell reporters what new information triggered the probe, but ABC News reported that detectives interviewed Marilyn Wayne, who was boating near the Splendour and said she heard a woman's cries for help. The investigative team also plans to travel to Hawaii where the yacht is kept by a new owner, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A spokesman for Wagner did not return calls from HuffPost, but last week he issued a statement on behalf of the family saying they encouraged the sheriff's department taking fresh look at the case. The comment appeared to also present a thinly-veiled criticism of Davern, however.

"They fully support the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her tragic death," spokesman Alan Nierob wrote.

The former "Hart To Hart" TV star has previously said he suspects Wood slipped into the water, possibly while trying to climb into a dinghy. Her body was found about a mile from the boat the morning after she vanished.

Actor Christopher Walken was a guest on the Splendour the night Wood died. He told TMZ he doesn't know why the case has been reopened.


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