Natalie Wood case: 'We're closer to understanding what happened,' detective says

LOS ANGELES -- Investigators are "closer to understanding what happened" in the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood, whose body was located in waters off Catalina Island, but a sheriff's detective on Monday said the case was not a murder investigation and no one had been named as a suspect.

Wood, a three-time Academy Award nominee, was on a yacht with her then-husband Robert Wagner, fellow actor Christopher Walken and the boat's captain on the night before she was reported missing.

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After the actress was found deceased, a two-week investigation was launched and ultimately deemed the incident to be accidental.

At a news conference Monday morning, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department discussed the status of the case days after it was featured on the television news series "48 Hours."

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The lieutenant said no new physical evidence has been discovered but new witnesses have come forward, prompting authorities to name the 87-year-old Wagner as person of interest.

"He was the last person with her on the boat, arguing," Corina said of the Hollywood couple. He added that investigators have asked to speak with Wagner, who is not a suspect, but he has declined the request "two or three times" over the years.

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"Things have dried up now," the detective said, noting that until recently, no tips about the matter had been received for about a year and a half.

Authorities previously held a press conference about the probe in 2011, resulting in more than 100 people coming forward at the time. In 2012, the coroner's office amended Wood's official cause of death as "drowning and other undetermined factors."

Corina said the sheriff's department will continue to examine the case for as long as there are any leads to pursue.
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