Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Amendment to Wood death certificate

Natalie Wood's death certificate has been amended

Natalie Wood's death certificate has been changed to reflect the uncertainty surrounding the actress' drowning more than 30 years ago.

The document was amended earlier this month and shifts the Hollywood star's death from an accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors", according to a copy of the certificate.

The amended document also now states that the circumstances of how Wood ended up in the waters off Catalina Island, Southern California, in November 1981 are "not clearly established".

The changes occurred nine months after sheriff's homicide investigators renewed their inquiry into Wood's death shortly before its 30th anniversary.

Chief of Detectives William McSweeney said the decision to amend the death certificate was ultimately made by the coroner's office, which has been instructed by detectives not to discuss the case. "I would just say undetermined is descriptive," he said.

Mr McSweeney said detectives still have work to do on the case, but that does not necessarily mean that a major shift is coming. "We don't close these cases," he said. "These cases have active periods and more passive periods. We're moving toward the end of an active period."

Conflicting versions of what happened on the yacht shared by West Side Story actress Wood, her actor-husband Robert Wagner and their friend, actor Christopher Walken, have contributed to the mystery of how the actress died on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981. Authorities have said Wagner is not a suspect in his wife's death.

Investigators re-opened the case last November but have released few details about its progress. They travelled to Hawaii to inspect the Splendour, the yacht the trio was aboard on the night of Wood's disappearance.

The renewed inquiry came after the boat's captain, Dennis Davern, told 48 Hours Mystery and the Today show that he heard Wagner and Wood arguing the night of her disappearance.

Wood was nominated for three Academy Awards during her lifetime. Her death stunned the world and has remained one of Hollywood's most enduring mysteries.

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