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Back in 1981, actress Natalie Wood drowned off the coast of Catalina Island.
The beloved star of such film classics as West Side Story, Miracle on 34th Street and Rebel Without a Cause was just 43 years old.
In the decades since Woods’ death, the suspicion that she was murdered by husband Robert Wagner has persisted – and with good reason.
In 2014, Wagner was questioned by police in connection with his wife’s death.
In 2016, it was widely rumored that the actor would be taken into police custody, but the arrest was never made.
Speculation about Wagner’s possible motives has varied widely over the years, but the most popular theory these days seems to be that Wood walked in on her husband in bed with friend Christopher Walken while the three actors were on an overnight yachting expedition.
Wagner chased Wood on deck, the story goes, and she either slipped, hit her head, and fell in the water, or he struck her and dumped her unconscious body overboard, where she drowned.
It may sound outlandish, but it’s not just tabloids and social media gossip hounds who are still interested in the details of that fateful night.
In 2011, the investigation was re-opened, and Wood’s cause of death was officially changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
On Saturday night, a new 48 Hours special entitled “Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water” will debut on CBS.
The episode features conversations with some of the authorities who have been investigating Woods’ passing for six years now – and they say they’re ready to interrogate Wagner:
“As we’ve investigated the case over the last six years, I think he’s (Wagner) more of a person of interest now,” says John Corina, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”
Public suspicion of Wagner and Walken began shortly after Wood’s death when it was revealed that they claimed she unexpectedly set out by herself in a dinghy in the middle of the night.
When family and friends revealed that Wood had a crippling fear of water and drowning, the actors changed their stories.
“I haven’t seen him (Wagner) tell the details that match all the other witnesses in this case,” Corina says.
“I think he’s constantly changed his story a little bit. And his version of events just don’t add up.”
The special also features an interview with Detective Ralph Hernandez. who recently evaluated Wood’s autopsy report and confirmed that the actress had fresh bruises on her body at the time of her death.
“She looked like a victim of an assault,” Hernandez says.
Producers of 48 Hours say Wagner declined their request to comment on the story.
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We have a pretty major and surprising update on the sudden death of Joel Taylor.
As previously reported, the former Storm Chaser star was found dead on Tuesday, passing away at the very young age of 38.
Multiple friends and ex-co-workers took to social media to confirm the sad news and also to pay tribute to Taylor, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma and who was rose to fame on the aforementioned Discovery Channel reality show.
He was admired by nearly everyone in the field of meteorology.
At the time of these reports and Twitter posts, however, the circumstances around Taylor’s death was unknown.
And the same could be said for his cause of death.
Now, however, TMZ and People Magazine have provided many more details on just what transpired Tuesday morning.
For starters, Taylor died on board the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship Harmony of the Seas.
It left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico after his corpse was discovered by a fellow passenger.
“The U.S. Coast Guard in San Juan, Puerto Rico was notified today in the afternoon by the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas cruise ship that they had a death on board,” Ricardo Castrodad, public affairs officer for the Coast Guard’s San Juan sector, told People.
Taylor’s family has reportedly identified his body.
At the time of Taylor’s passing, the ship was hosting Atlantis Events’ all-gay Caribbean Cruise; Olivia Newton-John was the headlining act.
According to TMZ sources, drugs were prevalent on board the cruise liner.
It seems as though Taylor was partaking, per a law enforcement official who said the following to the celebrity gossip site:
“It appears the death could be an overdose and Joel Taylor was consuming controlled substances.”
A passenger who spent time with Taylor adds that he had consumed so much GHB on the dance floor early Tuesday morning that he was rendered unconscious and carried back to his cabin by two people.
A few hours later, his body was discovered and the authorities were called in.
TMZ goes on to write that the abundance of GHB, cocaine and ecstasy on the boat has triggered an FBI investigation.
Numerous individuals were apparently arrested for possession before the cruise left Fort Lauderdale and this agency will be looking into how the drugs ended up on board the ship.
And not merely on board, either, but on board in significant quantities.
Taylor’s close friend and former colleague Reed Timmer was among the first to publicly mourn his passing on social media.
“RIP my best friend and storm chasing partner, Joel Taylor. I am shocked and absolutely devastated by the loss of my incredible, caring friend,” Timmer Tweeted along with image of the pals when they were chasing storms together since 2008.
“We chased so many intense storms, and I wish we could have just one more storm chase. I’ll miss you forever, Joel. We lost a legend.”
Added the Discovery Channel in a statement:
“We are so saddened to hear about Joel’s passing. We will always remember him fondly as an incredible meteorologist and driver of ‘The Dominator.’
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
We echo this sentiment. May Joel rest in peace.
The apparent drug overdose that led to the death of a “Storm Chaser” star on a cruise ship has triggered an FBI investigation … law enforcement sources tell TMZ. TMZ broke the story … “Storm Chaser” star Joel Taylor had been doing GHB late…