Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 15, 2013

Coroner releases new report on Natalie Wood death

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of the bruises found on Natalie Wood's body may have occurred before the actress drowned in the waters off Southern California more than 30 years ago, according to a newly released coroner's report on one of Hollywood's most mysterious deaths.

The case took another twist Monday when officials released a 10-page addendum to Wood's 1981 autopsy that cites unexplained bruises and scratches on Wood's face and arms as significant factors that led to officials changing her death certificate last year from a drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

Officials were careful about their conclusions because they lacked several pieces of evidence for their review.

Bruises on Wood's arms, a scratch on her neck and superficial abrasions to the actress' face may have occurred before Wood ended up in the waters off Catalina Island in November 1981, but coroner's officials wrote they could not definitely determine when the injuries occurred.

The findings have not altered a sheriff's department investigation into Wood's death, which a spokesman described as ongoing.

Wood, 43, was on a yacht with her actor-husband Robert Wagner, co-star Christopher Walken and the boat captain on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981 before somehow ending up in the water. A dinghy that had been attached to the boat was found along the island's shoreline, but investigators could not locate it to review it last year.

Investigators initially reported that there were scratches on its hull, but Wood's fingernails were not preserved for analysis.

The initial autopsy report said it was likely the bruises happened when Wood drowned. "Most of the bruises on the body are superficial and probably sustained at the time of drowning," the initial autopsy report stated.

Several of the original coroner's investigators who worked on the case were re-interviewed, and officials attempted to test some items taken during the investigation into Wood's death and an autopsy, but they could not be located.

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