Natalie Wood autopsy report revised; assault possible
New details in the death of Natalie Wood were released today by the Los Angeles Coroner's Office that show the actress had bruises on her body that "appeared fresh and could have occurred before she entered the water," indicating that Wood may have been assaulted before she drowned three decades ago.
With the new findings, the coroners amended Wood's cause of death to "drowning and other undetermined factors," with the manner of death being changed to "undetermined." The cause of death had originally been listed as "accident."
The report detailed the bruising on Wood's arms and legs and cited a four-inch bruise on her right forearm, multiple small one-inch fresh bruises on her left thigh, as well as fresh bruises and scratches to the backs of her legs. Aside from the bruising, Wood also had superficial abrasions on her left forehead, left eyebrow and the left upper cheek area.
"The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water," Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran wrote in the June report. "Since there are unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this Medical Examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined."
Wood died on Nov. 29, 1981 following a party on a boat with her husband actor Robert Wagner and "Brainstorm" co-star Christopher Walken. Her body was found floating face down off the coast of California's Santa Catalina Island. It's not clear how she entered the water.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reopened the investigation into Wood's death in fall 2011.
Authorities have said Wagner is not considered a suspect in the case.
Wood was nominated for three Academy Awards and was best known for her roles in "Miracle on 34th Street," "West Side Story," and "Rebel Without a Cause." She was 43 years old when she died.