News Conference on Natalie Wood's Death Scheduled for Today

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department detectives plan to publicly discuss today why the investigation into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood has been reopened.

Robert Wagner, who was married to Wood at the time of her death, was named by the sheriff's department last week as a person of interest in her drowning death off the coast of Santa Catalina island in November 1981. At the time, the couple was on the family's yacht Splendour with Captain Dennis Davern and fellow actor Christopher Walken.

The sheriff's department plans to discuss the issue at a news conference in Downtown L.A. at 11 a.m.

Investigators have said they want to speak with Wagner about the circumstances surrounding Wood's death in 1981, but Wagner, who will turn 88 on Feb. 10, has declined.

``We've investigated the case over the last six years. I think he's more of a person of interest now," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lieutenant John Corina said of Wagner in an interview with "48 Hours." ``I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared."

Wood, 43, was reported missing from the Splendour at 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 29. 1981. The next day, the three-time Academy Award nominee was found floating in the water. Witnesses have said they heard Wood and Wagner arguing the night she went missing.

After a two-week investigation, the death was ruled an accident in 1981. But the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the death investigation in 2011. In 2012, the Los Angeles County coroner's office amended the death certificate, changing the manner of death from an accidental drowning to ``drowning and other undetermined factors."

Corina says he 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," he says of Wagner. ``I think he's constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don't add up."

Investigators note the autopsy report indicates there were a number of bruises that appeared to be fresh on Wood's body.

``She looked like a victim of an assault," says Los Angeles County sheriff's Detective Ralph Hernandez. ``I think it's suspicious enough to make us think that something happened."

He added: ``We have not been able to prove this was a homicide. And we haven't been able to prove that this was an accident, either. ...The ultimate problem is we don't know how she ended up in the water."

Photo: Getty Images

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