Robert Wagner ‘Person of Interest’ in Natalie Wood’s 1981 Death

The lead story on Yahoo News at the moment, courtesy People magazine (“Robert Wagner Now Considered a ‘Person of Interest’ in Wife Natalie Wood’s Mysterious Death“):

Nearly 40 years after Natalie Wood died under mysterious circumstances, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators say her widower Robert Wagner is a person of interest in the case.

“As we’ve investigated the case over the last six years, I think he’s more of a person of interest now,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant John Corina said in an upcoming interview with CBS’ 48 Hours. “I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”

Wagner’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

There has long been strong suspicion that Wagner was involved but I can’t help but wonder why LA County is devoting this many resources to solving a 37-year-old case. To be sure, there’s no statute of limitations for murder and one presumes there are still loved ones who want justice for Woods’ death if indeed it was a homicide. But there are trade-offs here and one would think that the investigative manpower spent over the last six years could have been more profitably devoted to ongoing threats to public safety.

 

 

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Given the passage of time, it’s hard to understand what has changed now to bring this about. There certainly can’t be any new physical evidence I would think, and witnesses were no doubt talked to years ago.

    That being said, it’s a long step from calling someone a person of interest to even having grounds for arrest and in this type of case with a celebrity as a potential Defendant one would think they wouldn’t proceed with charges unless they felt they had a rock-solid case. As we’ve seen with such cases before (i.e., O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake) anything less would likely lead to a prosecution with egg on their faces.




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  2. JKB says:

    Why are they devoting resources?

    “in an upcoming interview with CBS’ 48 Hours”

    Why for ratings and PR. Perhaps ’48 Hours’ slips these departments a little cash to “get the story” on camera?




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  3. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    Why are they devoting resources?

    There’s no statute of limitations on murder. Unsolved homicides haunt the detectives who work on them.

    Also, there may be no new evidence, just new ways of looking at the old evidence.

    Everybody counts or nobody counts.
    – Harry Bosch

    (This has been fishy since the beginning.)




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  4. John Peabody says:

    If tragedy + time = comedy, then this joke from 1981 finally might be okay: “Do you know what kind of wood doesn’t float? Natalie Wood.”




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  5. wr says:

    Good to know that LA County has solved every one of its problems so now the Sheriff’s department has time to investigate a 37 year-old non-case. And I eagerly await the trial of the century as 90 year-old Robert Wagner is forced to testify, all based on witnesses suddenly remembering after four decades that they heard arguing that night.




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  6. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Unsolved homicides haunt the detectives who work on them.”

    Even if distribution of criminal justice resources was to be determined by the feelings of detectives, I doubt such a decision would apply now — any homicide detective who was older than 28 at the beginning of this case has passed retirement age.




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  7. James Pearce says:

    @wr: I don’t think you understand the meaning of “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”

    But thanks for the view from Shrugland. Old case, old suspect. Oh, well.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯




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  8. Mister Bluster says:

    Old case, old suspect. Oh, well.

    Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. was convicted in 2001 for his role in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The blast killed 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Morris.
    He was denied parole in 2016 and is rotting away in prison today.
    Two of his accomplices, Robert Edward Chambliss and Bobby Frank Cherry were convicted years after the crime was committed and have since died in prison.
    All of them were members of the same domestic terrorist cabal that today actively support President Donald Trump. The Ku Klux Klan.

    February is Black History Month

    Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
    Malcolm X




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  9. James Pearce says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. was convicted in 2001 for his role in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Prompting WR to respond:

    “Good to know that Birmingham has solved every one of its problems so now the Sheriff’s department has time to investigate a 38 year-old non-case. And I eagerly await the trial of the century as 79 year-old Thomas Blanton is forced to testify, all based on witnesses suddenly remembering after four decades that they heard arguing that night.”




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  10. wr says:

    @James Pearce: ‘I don’t think you understand the meaning of “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”

    Truly, the major problem in our society is that law enforcement just doesn’t care enough about the deaths of rich, white, beautiful women. We must expend every resource possible to make sure this forty year old death is solved, and if possible put away the 90 year-old person of interest for the rest of his life.

    Oh, over there? That enormous stack of rape kits going back decades that no one has looked at because there isn’t time or money enough? Never mind them. They don’t come from rich white famous women.




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  11. wr says:

    @James Pearce: Yes, because the race-driven terrorist attack that killed multiple children is exactly the same as the drowning of a rich white celebrity which was ruled accidental at the time.




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  12. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    the deaths of rich, white, beautiful women.

    Ah, there it is. And I thought you were making a “prioritizing resources” argument, as if the cold case unit has more pressing duties than working on cold cases. But no, it’s just the old racist, classist BS that allows so much injustice to prevail. Please don’t tell me who does and doesn’t deserve justice.

    Everybody counts or nobody counts.




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  13. wr says:

    @James Pearce: Uh-huh. Tell me, does your “everybody” include anyone who isn’t rich, white and famous? Please show me the posts where you’ve been fighting for the LAPD to reopen the case of a single poor or minority victim killed in the 1980s and I will never doubt your sincerity again.




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  14. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    I will never doubt your sincerity again.

    You have my permission to doubt me forever.




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