Report suggests that actress Natalie Wood suffered injuries before drowning
A new report issued Monday by the Los Angeles County Coroner on the death of Natalie Wood has raised more questions about the actress' 1981 death.
In a supplemental report on Wood's death signed in June 2012 but released on Monday, the coroner's department notes bruises on the actress' upper extremities that could have been caused by a "non-accidental mechanism" and "occurred before she entered the water" off of Catalina Island, where she fatally drowned on Nov. 29, 1981.
The bruises caused the medical examiner who completed the report to change the official cause of Wood's death to "drowning and other undetermined factors," adding more question marks to the aura of mystery surrounding the actress' demise.
"The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to the entry into the water," the supplemental report reads. "Since there are many unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this Medical Examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined."
The report concludes that the circumstances surrounding Wood's death are "not clearly established."
The coroner's department had no comment for TheWrap on the new report.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the Wood case in the fall of 2011, as media interest in Woods' death rose with the approach of its 30th anniversary. The department asked the current chief medical examiner-coroner, to formalize his findings in a report in April 2012, leading to the newly released addendum noting the bruises.
Wood's death occurred while she, husband Robert Wagner and her "Brainstorm" co-star Christopher Walken vacationed off the coast of Catalina Island in Southern California. The actress was 43 at the time of her death.
According to various reports — not least of all from Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht The Splendour, which the trio was staying on — Wood's death was preceded by a bout of arguing and heavy drinking.
Davern's book, "Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour," questioned the initial account of Wood's death, and during an interview with NBC's "Today" Davern claimed that Wagner was responsible for the actress' death. However, the yacht captain has admitted that his account of the event is hazy, as he had also been drinking heavily on the night of Wood's death.
In November 2011, Duane Rasure, the lead detective in the case, told CBS's "48 Hours" that he maintained that Wood's death was accidental adding that he would have arrested Wagner if he found any evidence that he was a culprit.
"It was an accidental drowning, she just happened to be a famous movie star," the now-retired Rasure said in the interview. "She was a small lady. She drowned in short time, I'd say.”
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.