Natalie Wood's fatal voyage
- Dennis Davern on Natalie Wood's death
- Doug Bombard on finding Natalie Wood's body
- Exclusive: 1981 Natalie Wood detective breaks silence
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48 Hours Presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal
Lt. John Corina, L.A. County Sheriff's Dept.: "We'll go where we need to go and talk to who we need to talk to...and look the evidence we need to look at...our investigation will take us where it will take us."
Less than a month after reopening the case, homicide detectives Kevin Lowe and Ralph Hernandez flew to Hawaii, where the Splendour, now owned by Ron Nelson, is docked.
Ron Nelson, Splendour owner: "The police were here about five hours...so they could analyze where people were at certain times and what actually happened."
Due to the ongoing investigation, the detectives aren't talking to the media. But "48 Hours" was in Hawaii shooting as they measured, photographed and tested the various accounts , including Wagner's banging dinghy theory.
Suzanne Finstad: "I think if there weren't serious suspicions...there wouldn't have been a reopening of the case, nor would it have been this substantive and sweeping as it is."
Natalie Wood biographer Suzanne Finstad shared her extensive archive with the detectives.
Suzanne Finstad: "I have boxes of research materials...that really can't be found anywhere else. I have tapes of all the interviews that I've conducted..."
Some of those tapes could be of vital importance to the investigation if - and that's a big if - the detectives determine there's any truth to them. And, if so, will they hold up in court.
Dennis Davern's former girlfriend: "One of the things he told me was that there was a fight going on like you wouldn't believe."
The woman who was dating Dennis Davern at the time of Wood's drowning spoke to Finstad in 2001 about a cryptic call she says she got from Davern shortly after Natalie Wood died.
Dennis Davern's former girlfriend: "He just said, 'Don't believe anything that you see in print...' 'What you're gonna be seeing about this, you know, it's all - it's all a lie.'"
Davern's former girlfriend declined to speak to "48 Hours" when we tried to verify this story.
This next call is from Natalie Wood's younger sister, Lana:
Lana Wood: "Dennis was obviously drinking."
Suzanne Finstad: "Right."
Lana Wood: "Dennis was not a close friend, and I don't know why he decided to call me."
Lana Wood is describing a stunning phone call she says she got from Dennis Davern in 1992, more than a decade after her sister's death. She tells Finstad that Davern told her he saw what happened to her sister.
Lana Wood: "He said it appeared to him as though RJ shoved her away and she went overboard. Dennis panicked and RJ said, 'Leave her there. Teach her a lesson.' ...Dennis said he was very panicky that he was sitting and RJ kept drinking and kept drinking. And he'd say, 'come on, let's get her.' And he said RJ was in such a foul mood at that point that he then shut up and was waiting for when, when are they gonna go to her rescue until all the sound stopped."
Lana Wood goes on to say that Davern didn't think Wagner meant for Natalie to die.
Lana Wood: "...even if he did not kill her, which is what I understand the guy's saying, it was - you know, that it - it was an accident. You know, he didn't mean for her to drown. But he didn't run to her aid."
Lana Wood has never told this story publically before or since. "48 Hours" tried to verify this account with Wood and Davern, but neither would speak to us. The sheriff's department has no comment on the tapes or details about their investigation.
Steve Whitmore: The Natalie Wood investigation is open, active and ongoing and because of those factors I cannot comment any further.
Sorting out the truth after all these years is no easy task. Detectives made a second trip to the Splendour in July , this time taking Davern.
Only Davern and the investigators know what was said or what it might mean to a case in which the statute of limitations has run out on every charge - except murder.
Lt. John Carino [press conference]: "Is Robert Wagner a suspect? No."
That was almost a year ago, and police still have not named a suspect.
In a written statement when the case was reopened, the Wagner family said they support the investigation and trust the detectives will judge the new information on the credibility of the sources.
Steve Whitmore: "They don't engage in investigations for theatrics. They engage in investigations to solve mysteries."
L.A. County Homicide won't say how long it will take to complete its work, but after years of shifting stories and the dimming of memory, the sea may finally release its secrets about the night Natalie Wood died.
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