Robert Wagner and his late wife, Natalie Wood, on board...

Robert Wagner and his late wife, Natalie Wood, on board the Queen Elizabeth II in April 1972. Credit: AP / Steve Wood

A Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department investigator says actor Robert Wagner has become a person of interest in the reopened cold case involving the death of his actress wife, Natalie Wood, in 1981.

CBS News said Thursday that Lt. John Corina says in the network’s newsmagazine “48 Hours” airing Saturday that, “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.”

The sheriff’s department, citing interviews with new witnesses, said the recent information had prompted investigators to call it “a suspicious death,” The Associated Press reports.

The department had reopened the investigation in 2011, and the following year the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office amended the death certificate to read that Wood — the screen legend who began as a child actress and went on to star in such classic films as “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), “West Side Story” (1961) and “Love with the Proper Stranger” (1963) — had died not only of accidental drowning but from “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

Wood, 43, had disappeared from her and Wagner’s yacht off Catalina Island, roughly 20 miles from Los Angeles, and was found the next day floating in the water. She had been onboard the boat with Wagner and her “Brainstorm” co-star, Christopher Walken, plus Capt. Dennis Davern. The mysterious circumstances surrounding her death have led to numerous conspiracy theories.

An autopsy report indicated bruises on Wood’s body that prompted Sheriff’s Det. Ralph Hernandez to tell the newsmagazine Wood “looked like the victim of an assault.” Added Corina, “I think it’s suspicious enough to make us think that something happened.”

Corina told “48 Hours” that Wagner has declined to speak with investigators since the case was reopened. “I haven’t seen him tell the details that match . . . all the other witnesses in this case,” he said. “I think he’s constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don’t add up.” Walken has spoken with the reopened case’s investigators.

“We have not been able to prove this was a homicide,” said Hernandez. “And we haven’t been able to prove that this was an accident, either.”

Wagner and Walken did not comment to “48 Hours.”

Top Stories

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME