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Natalie Wood Update: L.A. County homicide detectives investigate family boat in Hawaii

Police investigate Natalie Wood's death CBS

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives about the yacht Splendour in Honolulu, Hawaii, in December 2011, to re-investigate the death of Natalie Wood.
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(CBS) LOS ANGELES - Homicide detectives investigating the 1981 drowning death of Hollywood star Natalie Wood have traveled more than 2,000 miles to Honolulu, Hawaii, twice, to visit the Splendour, the vessel where Wood was last seen alive, according to a new report set to air on 48 Hours this Saturday.

48 Hours Presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal

The second trip was made with Dennis Davern, the yacht's then-captain, who says actor Robert Wagner, Wood's husband, was having a fight with the actress before she went missing, and delayed the search for her after she disappeared into the water.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives combed through the ship - testing the various theories of what happened, according to 48 Hours. Their first trip to the Splendour was made last December. 48 Hours was the only news organization there with the detectives as they continue to investigate her death. The detectives made their second trip, this time with Davern, in July.

Saturday's updated edition of 48 Hours Presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal (10:00 PM, CBS) includes the exclusive footage of police, along with Splendour captain Davern, returning to the boat he hadn't seen in three decades.

Natalie Wood's fatal voyage

This news comes just two months after it was it was first reported that officials changed Wood's death certificate to reflect some of the uncertainties and lingering questions surrounding the actress's demise.

The document now shifts Wood's death from an accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

The amended certificate also now states that the circumstances of how Wood ended up in the waters off Catalina Island in November 1981 are "not clearly established."

Wood was 43 at the time of her death.

Wagner speculated that Wood was likely bothered by the sound of their dinghy hitting the side of the boat and went to tie it more securely when she fell overboard.

Lana Wood insisted her sister was deathly afraid of the water and would never have attempted such a maneuver.

Sheriff's homicide detectives reopened the case last year after they say they were contacted by "persons who stated they had additional information about the drowning."

Wagner's family released a statement last year through a spokesman that said they trusted detectives to evaluate any new information and determine whether it came from "a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death."

During her stellar career Wood received three Academy Award nominations, for "Rebel Without a Cause," "Splendor in the Grass" and "Love with the Proper Stranger." Among her other appearances were the films "The Searchers," "West Side Story," "Inside Daisy Clover," and "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice." It was during production of the science-fiction thriller "Brainstorm," co-starring Christopher Walken, that Wood died.

Wood and Wagner were married twice, first in 1957 (before divorcing six years later) and then again in 1972. Her death during the Thanksgiving weekend in 1981 has long sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved.

Wood, Wagner, Walken and Davern spent time on Thanksgiving weekend 1981 both on Catalina Island and drinking on the yacht.

Wagner has dismissed suggestions that the actress's death was anything more than an accident. In a 2008 autobiography, he recounted drinking with Wood and Walken at a restaurant and on the boat.

Wood went to the master cabin during an argument between the two men, Wagner said. The last time Wagner saw his wife, he wrote, she was fixing her hair at a bathroom vanity and she shut the door.

Despite various theories about what led Wood to the water, he said it was impossible to know what happened.

"Nobody knows," Wagner wrote. "There are only two possibilities; either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened."

Coroner's officials said at the time that she was "possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face."

Wood was found wearing a flannel nightgown, socks and a red down jacket, and Davern identified her body for authorities, according to an autopsy report.

Click to watch a preview of 48 Hours Presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal.


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