Natalie Wood: New coroner's report indicates injuries from assault, not accident

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Natalie Wood, the legendary actress who drowned in 1981, may not have died an accidental death. This is the news gathered from a new Los Angeles County Coroner's report released on Monday (Jan. 14). Although the new report still does not allege foul play, it does note that some of her injuries are more consistent with an assault.

Wood died on Nov. 28, 1981, when she disappeared off a yacht after a night spent with husband Robert Wagner and their friend, Christopher Walken. The initial coroner's report supported Wagner's account, which had Wood going to bed earlier and not found missing until several hours later. It was conjectured that the actress had fallen into the water while trying to secure a dinghy that had been banging against the yacht's hull.

The LA Coroner's office reopened its investigation in 2011, following allegations made by the yacht's skipper, Dennis Davern, published a book that contained a different account of the night. In that book, Davern claimed that Wagner and Walken had first gotten into a fight earlier in the evening. Later, there were sounds of an argument and possibly a struggle from the direction of Wood's cabin.

The new coroner's report does not allege that murder, suicide or other forms of foul play were the cause of Wood's death. The coroner met with the original medical examiner and with Dr. Paul Miller, a consultant who also examined the body. Miller had noted that there was bruising to Wood's wrists and an absence of head trauma. He concluded -- and the current coroner has now confirmed -- that such injuries were more consistent with an assault than with accidental injuries sustained while trying to re-enter the boat.

There have always been concerns raised about this high-profile death, but reports have always stopped short of accusing anyone as being complicit in Wood's drowning. This new report may change that.

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