Natalie Wood's drowning now considered a 'suspicious death'

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- New witnesses have come forward in the drowning of actress Natalie Wood, prompting investigators to deem it a "suspicious death" and name her former husband, 87-year-old actor Robert Wagner, a "person of interest," Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.

The 43-year-old Wood, a three-time Academy Award nominee who starred in "West Side Story" and "Rebel Without a Cause," was found deceased in waters off Catalina Island in November 1981. She had been on a yacht with Wagner, actor Christopher Walken and the boat captain.

The incident was initially ruled an accident but the case was reopened in 2011. Following a press conference by sheriff's detectives at that time, the agency's Homicide Bureau received more than 100 tips.

Coroner's officials then amended the actress's death certificate in 2012 to include "drowning and other undetermined factors."

"For the first time, we have witness statements that portray a new sequence of events on the boat that night," the sheriff's department said in a statement Thursday.

One of the witnesses described hearing yelling and crashing sounds coming from the couple's stateroom, the news release said. Shortly after that, other witnesses heard a man and woman arguing on the back of the boat and believe the voices were those of Wood and Wagner, investigators said.

"Natalie Wood was later reported missing from the boat," according to the sheriff's department. "The statements from these new witnesses differ from the original version of events as related by previous witnesses, including the individuals on the boat."

The agency acknowledged there was not "enough to make an arrest at this moment."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call LASD homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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