Was Natalie Wood Murdered? This Biography Makes the Case.

A new biography claims that her death was no accident

Woman leaning on her arm
Suzanne Finstad claims Natalie Wood was murdered in a rereleased biography of the actress.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
By Bonnie Stiernberg / March 12, 2020 6:00 am

There’s been speculation for decades over what exactly caused Natalie Wood to fall overboard from the yacht she shared with her husband Robert Wagner and drown in 1981, and in 2011 the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officially reopened the investigation into her death. Now, biographer Suzanne Finstad has new information she believes proves that Wood was murdered by Wagner.

“Of all Natalie Wood’s secrets that I held in 2001, that secret was the reason for my urgency: I had come to realize the unimaginably horrible reason that she had drowned, and I needed to make public the dark and twisted facts of her drowning and its aftermath,” Finstad wrote in an excerpt from her book Natalie Wood posted to Vanity Fair.  “I had uncovered the facts using the sheriff’s murder book, put them together, and strung them in a row like lights on a Christmas tree, revealing the full horror of that strange, doomed night. It would not change the outcome of Natalie Wood’s drowning, but it would be evident, after Natasha, that she did not cause her own death because she was drunk from wine and Champagne, as the coroner, Thomas Noguchi, stated. People would come to see, as I had, that Natalie Wood’s drowning was not an accident.”

Finstad cited three new witnesses: a confidential source who claims to have heard from Christopher Walken, who was also on the boat at the time of Wood’s death, that Wagner pushed Wood; a photographer who took pictures of Wood’s body for the coroner’s office and noticed she had a head wound; and Dr. Michael Franco, who was an intern at the coroner’s office at the time of Wood’s death and observed some suspicious bruising on her body.

“I remember the striations were in the opposite direction of somebody trying to get onto a boat,” Franco said. “It was almost like somebody being pushed off. And because of the significant amount of the bruising in the lower anterior thighs and shins, that’s what caught my attention. She would have had to have been pushed forcefully off, or there was a force that was pulling her off, or something. The amount of noticeable bruising to the thigh shouldn’t have been there.”

You can read the full excerpt from Finstad’s book here.

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