Investigation of actress' death will include Hawaii yacht

Splendour in 1981
Splendour in 1981
Ron Nelson
Ron Nelson

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Homicide detectives in Los Angeles suddenly re-opened the investigation into the death of three-time Oscar nominee Natalie Wood, and a critical clue is now at Kewalo Basin. The case was classified an accidental drowning nearly 30 years ago.

Ron Nelson owns an intriguing piece of Hollywood history. He bought the Splendour at a boat show in California in 1986, five years after Wood's death.

The actress drowned off the California coast in November 1981 after a night of drinking on the yacht. Wood was afraid of the water, and the coroner's office said that she was possibly attempting to board the dinghy when she fell into the ocean. Also on the yacht, her husband Robert Wagner, actor Christopher Walken, and the captain, Dennis Davern.

"I just didn't want my whole life to go by without the truth coming out," said Davern.

Davern now claims he lied to investigators. According to him, Wood and her husband fought, and he blames Wagner for the 43-year-old's death.

"The investigation was smoothed over with just what we said and nothing was ever looked at any further. Robert Wagner was very serious about having the stories being the same to eliminate any investigation," said Davern.

Officials with the L.A. Sheriff's Department said they're taking another look at the case after several sources came forward with credible new information. A spokesman said Wagner is not a suspect.

"We're going to follow up on the leads we have. We are going to re-interview some people, interview some new people, talk to people and re-evaluate the evidence," said Lt. John Corina.

"There's not that many pictures of the inside of the boat around so they want to see what the boat looks like so they can talk intelligently to the people they're interviewing," explained Nelson.

Nelson sailed the Splendour to Hawaii about 15 years ago. He says he has been in contact with investigators for a few weeks, and he is surprised by all this attention after nearly three decades.

"Just a lot of unusual things. All the t's weren't crossed and the i's dotted so I think that's what they're trying to do now," said Nelson.

Nelson plans to start offering charter cruises on the Splendour in the near future. Send an email to for more information.

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