Dennis Davern — the captain of Natalie Wood’s death yacht — has broken his long silence about the ghastly moment he was forced to identify the Oscar winner’s lifeless body. Speaking to the acclaimed new podcast Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood, Davern exclusively said: “It was horrible.”
“She had more bruises on her body than you can imagine. I said to myself, ‘This poor woman was beat!'” It was Robert Wagner, said Davern, who forced him to identify Natalie’s body, refusing to do a husband’s duty on his own.
“I started thinking: Why me? Why do I have to do this?” Davern continued. “She had bruises on her face, she had bruises on her wrist. There was a number of bruises. I can’t remember exactly where they were all located, because after I looked at her face, I just didn’t want to look anymore.”
That shocking account echoes details exclusively revealed to Fatal Voyage by the L.A. Sheriff’s Department homicide investigator probing Natalie’s reopened case. Det. Ralph Hernandez grimly recounted the starlet’s inventory of wounds in Chapter 11 of the 12-part investigative audio documentary, which is now available for download on iTunes.
“You look at the bruising, and she looks like the victim of an assault,” Det. Hernandez sensationally said. “I think we can say that even simply just by looking at the photos, and having 30 years of law enforcement experience.”
“Her death,” he added, “is extremely suspicious again.” Natalie died under mysterious circumstances during a pleasure cruise with husband Robert and friend Christopher Walken to California’s Catalina Island in November 1981.
Just three days after her demise, the L.A. Coroner made this fateful declaration: Natalie, he said, had died of a “tragic accident while slightly intoxicated.” But the case was reopened in 2011 and the cause of death changed to “drowning and other undetermined factors.” Robert was also named a “person of interest”in the case — though he continues to refuse to speak with authorities.
Fatal Voyage is the culmination of years of dogged investigative reporting on Natalie’s demise, and sheds new light on what exactly happened that fateful early morning aboard The Splendour.