A witness who was boating with her family off Santa Catalina island in Southern California on the night Natalie Wood vanished from her husband’s yacht in 1981 claims she heard a woman crying for help and yelling that she was drowning for 20 minutes.
Marilyn Wayne told the creators of the popular new podcast Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood, that on the night of November 28, 1981, she was up on deck on board her boat she ‘heard screams from a woman yelling for help.’
Wayne, a retired stockbroker now in her mid-70s, first shared her account with The Mail on Sunday in 2011, claiming at the time that when she tried to tell police about what she had heard that fateful night, she was ignored.
A woman who was boating on November 28, 1981, off Santa Catalina island, not far from the yacht belonging to Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood (pictured together, left), said on a new podcast that she heard a woman’s screams for help that night
Wagner has always maintained that Wood accidentally slipped and fell overboard from their yacht, Splendour, as she tried to tie up a dinghy after a night of heavy drinking
Wayne claimed the screams continued for about 20 minutes, from 11.05pm to 11.25pm, which dovetails with the timeline of Wood’s disappearance from the boat
Wayne’s account was featured in chapter 7 of the 12-part podcast series, which was released on Friday.
‘Well, my son had a digital watch that we had just given him. so that’s how we kept the time, minute by minute,’ she recalled.
‘And I was up on the deck and heard a woman yelling, “Help me, somebody please help me, I’m drowning!”’
Wayne said she told her boyfriend, John, to try to reach Harbor Patrol, which he was not able to do. All the while, she said she continued asking her son for the time.
‘So we had a minute-by-minute history of the time frame and the yelling went on from 5 after 11 until 11.25 and then it stopped,’ Wayne recalled.
Wood’s husband Robert Wagner, who was on board his yacht Splendour along with his wife’s former co-star Christopher Walken, has always maintained that the 43-year-old star of West Side Story accidentally slipped and drowned as she tried to tie up a dinghy against the boat after a tumultuous night of heavy drinking.
Wood’s Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken (left) was one of four people on board the yacht that night
Wayne also revealed that the next day, she and her boyfriend called police seven separate times, trying to report what they had heard out at sea the night Wood went missing, but their calls were never returned.
Then three days later, received a note that, according to her, stated ‘something to the effect of, “If you want to stay healthy, keep your mouth shut!”’
Roger Smith, former Los Angeles County Supervising Rescue Boat captain who removed Wood’s body out of the water, told the producers of the podcast that Wagner could have saved his wife ‘but he didn’t.’
Smith recounted that when he found the Hollywood star floating in the water, it looked like she had not been dead very long.
He recalled that when he slipped a ring off of Wood’s finger, he noticed that her hands were still ‘pliable,’ meaning that rigor mortis had not set it by that point.
Two weeks ago, listeners of the Fatal Voyage podcast heard from Dennis Davern, the former captain of Wagner and Wood’s yacht, who claimed that the couple and their guest, Walken, had been fighting and that Wood wanted to escape.
Davern said in the bombshell interview featured in Chapter 6 of the series that he believed Wagner killed his wife during a scuffle in their room, threw her overboard and then told the captain not to look for his wife.
Police re-opened the case into Woods’ death in February 2018, and Wagner has been named as a suspect,but has so far declined to speak with authorities.
Dennis Davern, the former captain of Wagner and Wood’s yacht, previously claimed that the couple and their guest, Walken, had been fighting