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Robert Wagner Told Drowning Natalie Wood 'Hold On, We're Coming To Get You' -- Secret Claim Of Witness


Nov. 19 2011, Published 6:00 a.m. ET

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By Dylan Howard - Senior Executive Editor, Star magazine

The woman who allegedly overheard screen siren Natalie Wood crying for help has claimed she also heard a slurring Robert Wagner tell a woman overboard "we're coming to get you."

Retired stockbroker Marilyn Wayne is considered a sensational new "ear witness" in the mysterious case. She was guest on an adjacent yacht, roughly 90 feet from the Splendour, the yacht on which Wood, 43, was cruising with her husband Wagner and actor Christopher Walken in 1981, just hours before her Thanksgiving weekend death.

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While Wayne has yet to be questioned by Los Angeles police who announced last week they were reopening the three decade old cold case, has exclusively learned they've been provided with a sworn declaration from her that reveals telling clues.

It forms part of what law enforcement has said is "substantial new evidence" that triggered their decision, but is not an indication of any wrongdoing on Wagner's fault.

Asked at a news conference on Friday if Wagner, 81, was a suspect, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s lieutenant said point blank, "No."

The declaration is re-printed in full below.

As previously reported, Wayne claimed that she tried to report what she saw and heard that night -- the star’s "last desperate cries for help" -- but was ignored.

Wayne said she heard a female voice yelling for help, 'Somebody help me, I'm drowning! Please somebody help me, I'm drowning'."

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In her written statement, Wayne has since told cops: "I (also) heard a man's voice, slurred, and in aggravated tone, say something to the effect of, "Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you,” and not long after, the cries for help subsided, but we heard the cries for up to 15 minutes. We returned to bed, terribly disturbed.

"I believe a famous woman lost her life while he (Wagner) witnessed how and why it happened. I believe it was his voice I heard."

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Three days after Wood died, Wayne also claimed, she was sent a "scribbled message on a torn piece of paper" that threatened her to keep her mouth shut about the circumstances of that night, in 1981.

"If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know," the note allegedly read.

Said Wayne: "I immediately suspected it was related to Natalie Wood's death because that's all anyone had been talking about. I was disturbed and even told an attorney about the threat."

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Here's Wayne's statement submitted to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department:

I, Marilyn Wayne, a citizen of the USA in California, hereby state as follows:

1. I make this declaration for the purpose of inducing the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to re-investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Natalie Wood on November 29, 1981 and to re-open the case for appropriate action as warranted.

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2. Relevant facts include:

On November 28, 1981, I and businessman John Payne, were sleeping aboard John’s 42 ft. sail boat, the Capricorn, equipped with a silent generator. The cabin window was open. A woman’s voice, crying for help from drowning awakened John and he awakened me. “Help me, someone please help me, I’m drowning” we heard repeatedly. Alarmed, I called out to my son, who also heard the cries, and looked at his new digital watch: it was just minutes after 11:00 P.M.

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As the cries for help continued. John went to the control panel and switched on the beam light. I went on deck to look toward the sound, but it was dark and damp and couldn't see anything. I had a bead on the plaintive cry for help, and considered swimming toward it, but John convinced me it could be a dangerous choice. I thought the cries were only about 40 feet away, toward the boat moored closest to us, which I learned the next day was the Wagner yacht, Splendour.

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While listening to the cries, we called the harbor patrol but no one answered. Then we called the sheriff’s office in Avalon, 12 miles away, and whoever answered told us a helicopter would be sent, but it did not come. We heard loud music coming from somewhere, so thought there was a party on a nearby boat.

Then I heard a man's voice, slurred, and in aggravated tone, say something to the effect of, "Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you,” and not long after, the cries for help subsided, but we heard the cries for up to 15 minutes. We returned to bed, terribly disturbed.

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I was up by 5:00 A.M. the next morning and went right out to the deck, afraid of what I might see in the water. To my relief, only the ocean flowed between the Capricorn and the Splendour. I jotted down Splendour’s name, as that was the exact area the cries had originated from. The Spendour was moored about 50 feet away, starboard, facing in the same direction as the Capricorn, toward the island, no more than a five-minute swim to the shoreline. I calculated that the cries I’d heard came from no more than 10 to 15 feet from the Splendour. Whoever had cried for help, did so from between the two boats.

Natalie Wood
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About a half hour later, I noticed a police boat near the Splendour. At this time, the Harbormaster's employee—a teenage boy—arrived at our boat, the Capricorn, to collect the mooring fee. The police boat lingered at the Splendour, so I asked the young man what was going on “over on that boat,” pointing to the Splendour. He answered, "Maybe you should mind your own business!"

When we cruised back to Newport Beach a couple of hours later, and learned that Natalie Wood’s body had been found, I had no doubt it had been her voice I had heard the night before.

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I had always wanted to believe that Natalie's death was an accident and originally felt sorry for her widower, actor Robert Wagner. But, then things started to change. The police never interviewed me and/or John, although they would claim they had. Immediately after the death, I had talked about the experience at work and someone from the L.A. Times called to interview me. Then, I placed a call to Coroner Thomas Noguchi after he published his theory. I wanted to correct him on his "timeline" which I knew was off.

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Noguchi talked with me but although the County Sheriff’s Department was well aware of my account, they continued to ignore me. When investigating a body—especially under the bizarre circumstances surrounding Natalie Wood’s death—one would think the authorities would have jumped at the opportunity to talk with me, as I had information that could have shed light on the case.

Lead case Detective, Duane Rasure, publicly called me “someone seeking my name in the media” and that was extremely insulting, as, in fact, I preferred to have quietly interviewed with the authorities. I never gave my full account until I was contacted almost 20 years later by author Suzanne Finstad while she researched for her biography on Ms. Wood, titled Natasha.

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A few years later, author Marti Rulli contacted me while researching her book, Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour, an account that includes a polygraph test of the Splendour boat captain, Dennis Davern. His account of the approximate time Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner began arguing was just before 11:00 PM. He claims he started playing loud music at approximately the same time.

I have always been willing to take a polygraph test to prove I stand behind my account, which corresponds with Dennis Davern’s account the authorities continue to ignore.

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I was a stock broker in November 1981, and worked in the same firm as one of Robert Wagner's brokers. I had a "client box'" designed for clients to drop off their messages through a slot in the front. The boxes were opened in the back, labeled by broker name on each end. Three days after Natalie died, I found a scribbled message on a torn piece of paper in my box that read, "If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know." I immediately suspected it was related to Natalie Wood's death because that's all anyone had been talking about. I was disturbed and even told an attorney about the threat.

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A few weeks after Natalie Wood’s death, John Payne and I had dinner at a Beverly Hills restaurant, and in walked Robert Wagner with his mother. Oddly, the maitre d' asked us if we were uncomfortable and would we want to move to another room. We declined. Robert Wagner looked over and saw us. We wondered if we should approach him to offer condolences, but decided that might be an intrusion. Ironically, we thought Mr. Wagner should have wanted to approach us to ask what we might know, as you would expect a husband to do, one who would want to learn details about his wife’s demise. We believed at that time that he was totally innocent, but we were stunned he said nothing to us. We knew him from around the marinas. My question was: Why wouldn’t a loving husband want to ask a question of the people who last heard his wife’s voice? He knew we were those people, it had been talked about. Why wouldn’t he have wanted to thank us for the help we tried to provide the night we called for help for the calls for help?

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After all I’ve learned since my own direct experience with the death of Natalie, I am stunned that Robert Wagner has never been properly interrogated in regards to Natalie Wood’s death. In my opinion, Natalie Wood’s case is one of the top most botched cases of the 20th century, and I am still willing to offer my assistance should you finally realize that this case needs what every death case deserves: a full and proper investigation.

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If Robert Wagner wants the world to know he had done nothing wrong, he should be made to prove it. I believe a famous woman lost her life while he witnessed how and why it happened. I believe it was his voice I heard, the one that said he would help during the cries for help. I believe he never asked a question of me because he didn’t need to ask questions: he knows what happened.

In response to the new investigation, Robert Wagner has issued the following statement:

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"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."



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