The effort to find the truth behind Natalie Wood's mysterious death has hit a roadblock yet again as key investigators suddenly got tight-lipped about the case, RadarOnline.com can exclusively reveal.
Almost 35 years after her suspicious drowning, attorney Sam Perroni filed legal documents to persuade cops to expose shocking evidence that he believes could prove her husband, Robert Wagner, actually murdered her.
However, investigators refused to answer several of his questions in a deposition for the civil case — and one of them didn't even bother showing up!
"L.A. chief of detectives William McSweeney was under subpoena, but willfully failed to appear to testify," Perroni, a former federal prosecutor in Little Rock, Ark., told Radar.
Still, Lt. John Corina of the L.A. County Sheriff's homicide division, an L.A. detective and an ex-investigator for the L.A. County Medical Examiner's office, sat for hour-long depositions.
Perroni is suing to obtain a top-secret police report — kept hidden for decades due to its “sensational” details.
Radar has exclusively obtained court papers disclosing the existence of the hushed-up account, known as the “Miller Report” and written by a top investigator.
“This report could reveal Natalie Wood’s death was a murder, and why Robert Wagner did it!” Perroni told Radar.
The “stonewalling” by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in sitting on the document “has begun to look like a conspiracy of silence to protect Robert Wagner and/or the department from public scrutiny,” he added. “Wagner has gotten a pass from them for nearly 35 years, and it’s time for them and Wagner to be held accountable!
“This report is a public record. They must release it now!”
The report was commissioned by then-L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi after Natalie mysteriously drowned at age 43 off California’s Catalina Island on Nov. 29, 1981, said Sam.
At the time, Dr. Noguchi asked Paul Miller, a Los Angeles senior medical examiner’s investigator and ocean accidents specialist, to conduct an investigation.
In his 1983 book, “Coroner,” Dr. Noguchi said he gave Paul specific instructions to “examine the stern of the Wagners’ yacht for any disturbance, or evidence of violence, that the police might have missed … (and) check the dinghy for any sign of a struggle.”
Dr. Noguchi later wrote: “When Paul Miller’s report on the real facts of the death of Natalie Wood arrived, I read it and decided not to release the document to the press. It added details the media would only call ‘gory’ and ‘sensational.’”
As Radar has reported, on the night of the tragedy, Wagner exploded in a jealous rage on the couple’s yacht, “Splendour,” and fought with Natalie in a booze-fueled brawl, according to “Splendour” Capt. Dennis Davern. The couple was entertaining Natalie’s “Brainstorm” co-star, Christopher Walken, on the boat at the time.
Dennis, who passed a police polygraph test, implicated Wagner in Natalie’s death, and accused him of delaying the search for his missing wife.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reopened the investigation into Natalie’s death in 2011, and the Medical Examiner’s Office changed the official cause of death from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
Authorities said Wagner, 85, refused to cooperate with cops, and homicide investigators later labeled him a “person of interest.”
While Perroni expected the cops' statements in depositions to help his cause, there was "just more cover-up and obstruction of the truth," he said.
"It was like they were taking the Fifth (Amendment to avoid incriminating themselves) on all crucial points relating to whether Natalie's death was a homicide, and whether Wagner was a suspect," he continued.
"But at some point, they will have to show their hand, and then the public will know the truth!"