Brainstorm probably wouldn't have gotten a release if the circumstances surrounding the film had of happened today. Its leading lady was found dead, and one of her co-stars was the last to see her alive. The movie marked the end of a career for iconic actress Natalie Wood. And it was released a short time after her untimely passing, once her death had been deemed an accident. But the case was reopened seven years ago. And now, Wood's then husband is officially a 'person of interest' in her possible murder.
Natalie Wood's drowning has always gone unexplained. But Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators are telling 48 Hours that Robert Wagner has become a 'person of interest' some four decades later. Wood was found dead in 1981, after disappearing from her family's yacht. A full interview delving into her disappearance and death is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS this Saturday, February 3 at 10 pm. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant John Corina says this of Wagner.
"As we've investigated the case over the last six years, I think he's more of a person of interest now. I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared."
Natalie Wood was found floating off the coast of Catalina Island in California, dressed in a red vest and nightgown, dead from an apparent drowning. She had fled her family's boat the Splendour the night before, reportedly after her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner got in an argument. There have long been rumors that Wood and Walden were having an affair, but that has never been proven. Also aboard the boat that night was Captain Dennis Davern.
The initial investigation into Wood's untimely demise lasted two weeks and was ruled an accident. It wasn't until thirty years later, in 2011, that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the case to further investigate the death. A year later the death certificate was amended to call the death an accidental drowning and 'other undetermined factors'. Many have long believed that foul play was involved.
At the time of her death, all three men who were also aboard the ship claimed Wood, who was notoriously terrified of water, fled the boat in a small dingy. Over the course of the past 40 years, Wagner and Davern's stories has shifted. This caused a red flag to go up with investigators. Now, Wagner refuses to speak about his former wife's death. Corina doesn't believe Wagner has told the whole story.
"I haven't seen him tell the details that match all the other witnesses in this case. I think he's constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don't add up."
Since the case was reopened, Christopher Walken has talked with authorities. Today's investigators are concerned about a number of fresh bruises that were found on Wood's body at the time of her death. It is said that she 'looked like the victim of an assault.' Wagner was the last one to see his wife alive.
48 Hours has been the only team investigating this reopened case for the past 6 years, and were onboard the Splendour as detectives searched for new clues. The upcoming report includes new interviews with Lana Wood, Natalie's sister, along with archival interviews featuring Wagner, Davern and others involved in the case. Robert Wagner and Christopher Walden both declined being interviewed for Saturday's full expose. The case at this time has not been proven to be a homicide. The main cause for concern is that forty years later, no one knows how she ended up in the water. This report comes from CBS News.