By Dylan Howard - Senior Executive Editor, Star magazine
Hollywood star Robert Wagner smashed a bottle of wine in a fit of rage and screamed to actor Christopher Walken "Do you want to f*ck my wife" in the moments before she fell overboard on the fateful night 30 years ago, the boat's captain has claimed.
Recalling what he saw on the night from the bridge of the luxury yacht, the captain told the cops who've re-opened the cold case: "The only full sentence I could completely decipher during the entire argument was “Get off my f*cking boat” said by Robert Wagner."
Fifteen minutes later, when he arrived on the open deck where Wood, 43, and Wagner had been arguing, Dennis Davern recounted how only "Wagner was present, and he stood near the far rear wall of the yacht."
L.A. County officials who re-opened the investigation into Wood's death said at a press conference on Friday that Wagner is not a suspect in her death.
In a sworn statement to homicide detectives obtained exclusively by RadarOnline.com, Davern suggested the booze fueled confrontation triggered Wagner, now 81, to have a blow-up with his wife Natalie Wood, who was later found drowned in the water off Santa Catalina Island, Calif., in 1981.
He appeared "sweaty, flushed, anxious, nervous, and disheveled," the boatman claimed.
"He (Wagner) told me 'Natalie is missing' and asked me to search the yacht," Davern told police, in the document that triggered the sensational move to re-examine the mysterious case.
"He led me through the stateroom which was a mess...it had been spotless when I passed through it after securing the dinghy a half-hour earlier."
Walken was asleep in the cabin where he retreated to after the "f*ck my wife" slur, Davern said.
"I immediately wanted to radio for help and to turn on the searchlight, but Robert Wagner told me, sternly, “We are not going to do that. We will wait and see if she returns.”
"His choice led me to presume that he knew his wife was in the dinghy and had taken off in it. I knew that Natalie Wood had never taken the dinghy alone, day or night, as she did not know how to operate it.
"While we waited, Wagner opened scotch and poured alcohol for me. He encouraged me to drink. He discussed with me the repercussions of bringing any immediate attention to the situation and he claimed he did not want to tarnish his image.
"After an hour passed, Wagner began crying and repeated, 'She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone' which I believed a strange thing to say.
"Over two hours passed before I finally convinced Robert Wagner to make a call for help. He did not call for professional help. He radioed the Island area and said, “Someone is missing from our boat.” He did not mention Natalie Wood’s name.
"Island help showed up and after an hour or so, the local Harbormaster arrived and suggested the Coast Guard be called immediately, but Wagner still claimed he did not want to tarnish his image by drawing public attention to the situation.
At 3:30 a.m., the Harbormaster insisted the crew of the Splendour phone the Coast Guard and file a missing person report, the captain recalled.
"Crucial time had been wasted," wrote Davern.
"Wagner’s primary concern was what he would tell the public or authorities when questioned. He repeatedly told me to remain quiet about anything I knew, again citing the importance of his public image. He demanded I say nothing if questioned.
When the Coast Guard rescue team arrived, "they seemed angry that we had waited so long to call for professional assistance."
Wood was found floating face down at 7:45 a.m.
Said Davern, "After the news was relayed to us aboard the Splendour, Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken were flown from the Island by helicopter to the Mainland before the detectives on the case arrived.
"I was left behind to identify Wood’s body, as Wagner had asked me to do. I noticed bruises on her body and my first thought was that the bruises might have been acquired during the argument in the stateroom and on the rear deck."
That "loud" argument, which spilled onto the deck, was "fast and furious" according to Davern, who reported he heard things (objects, possibly people) hitting the walls and things being thrown at the ceiling."
Robert Wagner has issued the following statement about the new investigation:
"Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff's department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her tragic death."