The Los Angeles County Sheriff's office  recently received "substantial information" that led to the decision to further investigate the death of actress Natalie Wood 30 years ago, a spokesman said Friday.

Two homicide detectives have been assigned to the case, Lt. John Corina confirmed in a press conference.   

A yacht captain told NBC's Today show on Friday he lied to investigators about Wood's death and blames her husband, actor Robert Wagner, for her drowning.

Dennis Davern made the admission the morning after homicide investigators reopened the case originally ruled a tragic accident — and said he made mistakes by not telling the truth in 1981.

But Corina said there was new information from more than one source and that more people had come forward after hearing the case was reopened.

Wood's death was ruled to be an accidental drowning and is still considered accidental, until investigators find evidence that might change that finding, he said. The spokesman refused to name suspects or say what new information had prompted the investigation.

When asked directly if her husband Robert Wagner was a suspect, Corina said "No."


Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood in 1972, the year they married for the second time. The investigation into Wood's 1981 drowning death has been reopened. (Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Actress Wood died off the shores of Southern California on Nov. 29, 1981. She drowned after spending several hours drinking on Catalina Island and a yacht with Wagner, Davern and fellow actor Christopher Walken.

The ship captain and Wood's sister, Lana, have been lobbying to have the case reopened. Davern co-wrote a book on Wood's death three years ago and has said there was a fight that night that he was told not to report. He also said he was told not to call the coast guard.

"Was the fight between Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner what ultimately led to her death?" Today host David Gregory asked on Friday.

"Yes," Davern replied. 

"How so?"

"Like I said, that's going to be up to the investigators to decide," Davern said.

30-year anniversary of death

The Wagner family on Thursday released a statement saying that it trusts the sheriff to judge whether the information is credible, or simply someone trying to profit from the 30th anniversary of a tragic death.

"Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the L.A. County Sheriff's department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the L.A. 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," Wagner spokesman Alan Nierob wrote in a statement.

The sheriff's office has said it will contact the family now that the investigation has been officially opened.

Wood, an Oscar nominee known for roles in West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause, died at the age of 43. She and Wagner, star of TV's Hart to Hart, were married twice: first in 1957, before divorcing six years later, and again in 1972.

With files from The Associated Press