Natalie Wood Mystery: 31st Anniversary Of Actress's Death Sees A Few More Clues

FILE - A Dec. 1, 1981 file photo shows actress Natalie Wood. Dennis Davern, captain of the yacht Splendour, which Wood was ab
FILE - A Dec. 1, 1981 file photo shows actress Natalie Wood. Dennis Davern, captain of the yacht Splendour, which Wood was aboard on the night she died, said on national TV Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 that he lied to investigators about Natalie Wood's mysterious death 30 years ago and blames the actress' husband at the time, Robert Wagner, for her drowning in the ocean off Southern California. A Los Angeles County sheriff's detective will speak to reporters Friday about the decision to take another look at the Oscar-nominated actress' nighttime demise. (AP Photo/File)

It's been 31 years since Natalie Wood died under mysterious circumstances. But 2012 proved to be an exceptional year in getting one step closer to resolving the actress's death.

By now, nearly everyone knows the story. On Nov. 29, 1981, the beautiful Hollywood actress drowned off the coast of Catalina Island, Calif. Wood and actor-husband Robert Wagner had boarded a yacht with friend Christopher Walken that Thanksgiving weekend. The married couple got into an alcohol-infused row at night; Wood was found submerged in the water the next morning, dead at 43.

Two crucial developments have happened since Los Angeles homicide detectives reopened Wood's case in Nov. 2011, citing new information. In August, the Los Angeles coroner made a shocking move when it revised Wood's death certificate from accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors" -- a change that allows for the possibility of foul play. The document also specified that it was "not clearly established" how exactly Wood ended up overboard in the water.

And in September, CBS News uncovered never-before-heard audio recordings of Wood's sister Lana discussing her famous sibling's death. The recordings were compiled as part of research for a 2001 biography on Wood by biographer Suzanne Finstad. In them, Lana says that the captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, had called her while drunk and claimed that Wagner (referred to as "RJ") knowingly had neglected to help Wood while she was drowning.

An excerpt from the audio recording is below:

"He said it appeared to him as though RJ shoved her away and she went overboard," she is reported to have said. "Dennis panicked and RJ said, 'Leave her there. Teach her a lesson.' Dennis said he was very panicky that he was sitting and RJ just kept drinking and drinking. And he'd say, 'Come on, let's get her.' And he said RJ was in such a roil mood, at the point, that he then shut up and was waiting for when, when are they gonna go to her rescue, until all the sound stopped."

Still, the mystery behind Wood's death remains unsolved. No conclusions have been reached about Wood's death, except that there are none.



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