Dennis Davern appeared on Dr. Phil yesterday and asserted his belief that Robert Wagner murdered Natalie Wood.
Davern, captain of Wagner and Wood’s yacht, said on the show, “I think the argument got out of control, and she was knocked unconscious by a physical fight, from Robert Wagner, and put in the water.”
When asked if he believed Wagner murdered Wood, his answer was simple: “I really do.”
Wood died the night she and her husband were sailing on their yacht the Splendour with their friend Christopher Walken. Davern was the captain of the Splendour that night, and he claims he heard fighting between the couple (whose relationship was notoriously rocky) before Wood went missing.
Davern further elaborates that Wagner didn’t want to call the coast guard after Wood initially disappeared, and that, even more suspicious, Wagner told Davern and Walken that they needed to “get our stories straight.” He also states that Wagner was generous to him after Wood’s death: not only did Wagner get Davern a lawyer, but he got him acting roles and into the Screen Actors’ Guild. Wagner even brought Davern to live with him, though he claims it wasn’t exactly a getaway to the country: “I…kinda remained prisoner in the house.”
Wood’s 1981 death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, but the investigation was reopened in 2011 after new tests were conducted aboard the Splendour that found Davern’s testimony was plausible.
“The police actually went to Hawaii where the “Splendour” is now, and they took Dennis and they conducted noise tests to prove what he was telling them was true,” says Dylan Howard, host of the podcast Fatal Voyage: the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood. The podcast was responsible for reinvigorating public interest in Wood’s death earlier this summer.
Segments of the full interview are available on Dr. Phil's YouTube channel.