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New Natalie Wood death probe said to be inconclusive

By Richard Winton

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LAST UPDATED: 12:47 p.m. HST, Jul 10, 2012

LOS ANGELES - Detectives who have spent the last eight months reinvestigating the 1981 death of Natalie Wood said they don’t believe there is enough evidence to classify it as an accident but have not determined it was a homicide, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.

The sources said the detectives were continuing to investigate but believe the case should be classified as “inconclusive” until more evidence is gathered. The original 1981 investigation classified Wood’s death as an accident.

Despite the high-profile probe, the sources stressed the case was not considered a homicide and there were no suspects at this time. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was open.

The department surprised many by reopening the case last year, two weeks before the 30th anniversary of Wood’s death. Some questioned the timing of the new probe - it coincided with a “48 Hours Mystery” television segment about the case, produced in partnership with Vanity Fair magazine. But officials said several sources had come forward to provide more information about what happened that night.

After the new investigation began, the captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, gave several television interviews expressing skepticism about the original investigation and saying he believed that Wood was a victim of foul play.

But two months after reopening the case, a top sheriff’s official told the Times it was highly unlikely any new light would be shed on how the actress died.

“At this point, it is an accidental death,” said William McSweeney, the sheriff’s chief of detectives. “Nothing has been discovered to suggest changing that at this time.”

At the time, McSweeney said detectives had conducted several interviews and reviewed the entire original file. They had also traveled to Hawaii to inspect the yacht Wood and the others were aboard.

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