Entries in Investigation (7)


Woman Claims She Heard Natalie Wood’s Cries for Help

Ron Galella/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Police have reopened the investigation into the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood, and a witness has now come forward to say she heard the actress screaming for help on the night she died.

Wood died on Nov. 29, 1981 while she was boating with her husband, Robert Wagner, and actor Christopher Walken, off Catalina Island in California. Wood reportedly could not swim.

Even though the couple had reportedly argued that night, there was no determination of foul play following Wood’s death.  The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said the actress could have slipped and fallen into the water while trying to secure a dinghy to the boat.

The official cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning, but because there has been little concrete information about the circumstances surrounding the events of that night, speculation has been rife and the case remains one of Hollywood’s longest-running mysteries.

But now, California resident Marilyn Wayne, who was boating in the same area that night -- approximately 40 yards away from the Splendour, the yacht upon which the actors were staying -- said she heard a woman’s cries for help.

In a sworn statement to investigators, Wayne said she and her boyfriend, John Payne, were sleeping aboard a sailboat, the Capricorn, on Nov. 28, 1981.  The window of the cabin was open.

“A woman’s voice, crying for help from drowning awakened John, and he awakened me.  ‘Help me, someone please help me, I’m drowning’ we heard repeatedly.  Alarmed, I called out to my son, who also heard the cries, and looked at his new digital watch: it was just minutes after 11:00 P.M.,” she said in her statement.

According to Wayne’s statement, Payne turned on the sailboat’s beam light and played it over the area while she went up onto the deck, though it was dark and damp and she says that she was unable to see anything.

“While listening to the cries, we called the harbor patrol but no one answered.  Then we called the sheriff’s office in Avalon, 12 miles away, and whoever answered told us a helicopter would be sent, but it did not come.  We heard loud music coming from somewhere, so thought there was a party on a nearby boat,” the statement said.  “Then I heard a man’s voice, slurred, and in aggravated tone, say something to the effect of, 'Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you,' and not long after, the cries for help subsided, but we heard the cries for up to 15 minutes.  We returned to bed, terribly disturbed.”

When she woke up the next morning, she says, she saw police at the boat located near Wayne's sailboat Capricorn, and learned that Wood, a passenger on that board, had drowned.

Wayne, a former stockbroker, said in the statement that she doesn’t believe the initial investigation was thorough enough, that police never interviewed her and that she received a threatening note cautioning her to keep quiet about what she knew.

“After all I’ve learned since my own direct experience with the death of Natalie, I am stunned that Robert Wagner has never been properly interrogated in regards to Natalie Wood’s death.  In my opinion, Natalie Wood’s case is one of the top most botched cases of the 20th century, and I am still willing to offer my assistance should you finally realize that this case needs what every death case deserves: a full and proper investigation,” her statement said.

Wagner has never been charged, and police plan to reach out to him as part of the re-opened investigation, but they say he is not a suspect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Natalie Wood: Investigators Re-Open Actress’ 30-Year-Old Death Case

Ron Galella/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau is re-opening the investigation into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood.

The sheriff’s department and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office initially ruled Wood’s death an accidental drowning after she went boating with her husband, Robert Wagner, and Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken off Catalina Island, Calif., on Nov. 29, 1981.

“Recently sheriff’s homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning,” a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department news release said. “Due to the additional information, Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau has decided to take another look at the case.”

More details are expected to be announced at a news conference Friday.

Wood appeared in more than 56 films, notably playing James Dean’s love interest in Rebel Without a Cause.

She was married to Wagner twice. They married in 1957, divorced five years later and remarried in 1972.

Wood’s death has been a long-running mystery in Hollywood.

In 1981, Wood was with Wagner and Walken during Thanksgiving weekend on the couple’s boat, the Splendour, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Wagner and Walken reportedly got into an argument after they returned from drinks at a local restaurant.

Wood went to the master cabin bathroom, but Wagner noted as he was going to bed that he noticed Wood wasn’t there, the Times reported.

“It is believed that the dinghy had gotten loose and Wood came up on deck to tie it up,” where she fell and drowned, the Times reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


California AG Investigating the Farrah Fawcett Foundation

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The California Attorney General's Office of Charitable Trust is investigating the Farrah Fawcett Foundation for potential mismanagement of funds, diversion of assets and fraud, ABC News has learned exclusively through numerous sources including Fawcett's longtime friend and former college boyfriend, Greg Lott.

The foundation became active after Fawcett's death in June 2009 from her long and much-publicized battle with cancer, according to attorney Jane Peebles, counsel to the foundation.

ABC News has been told both the Farrah Fawcett Foundation and the Farrah Fawcett Living Trust, which funds the foundation, have been notified and ordered to turn over their financial records and estate planning documents. Sources also say they were given 60 days to comply. The deadline is believed to be sometime in September 2011.

Lott says the California Attorney General's office has been quietly interviewing friends, business associates and several beneficiaries of Fawcett since early July.

Richard B. Francis, the trustee of the estate and chairman of the foundation, as well as Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal's former business manager, calls the investigation a witch hunt and says the foundation has done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, he says the foundation is cooperating fully with the investigation.

Alana Stewart, president of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, says the foundation is following Farrah's wishes and calls the investigation outrageous.

The California Attorney General's office refused to comment for this story saying, "we don't confirm or deny the existence of investigations."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ashton Kutcher Could Be Investigated over 'Details' Mag Issue

Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- There's a chance Ashton Kutcher could be investigated by a government agency over his recent role as a guest editor of an online-only issue of Details magazine.

The problem: he didn't fully disclose his investments in many of the technology companies profiled in the issue, such as Foursquare, according to The New York Times.

As Richard Cleland, an assistant director of the division of advertising practices at the Federal Trade Commission, explains to the newspaper, "If you’re out there promoting individual products that you have a specific investment in, it needs to be disclosed."

Though he didn't disclose whether Kutcher will be questioned by the FTC in regards to the magazine, Cleland says there's "certainly a possibility that a case like this could be investigated."

According to The New York Times, the Securities and Exchange Commission could also have a problem with the Details issue if Kutcher knew at the time that the featured companies plan to raise money in the near future through an initial stock offering.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Harold Smith Suicide Gun Likely Used to Murder Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen, Police Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The gun used to kill Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen most likely is the same one that a "person of interest," Harold Martin Smith, killed himself with last week, according to preliminary police ballistics tests.

"Preliminarily, we believe it was a random act, and we believe Mrs. Chasen was going to be the victim of a robbery," Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Mike Publicker said.

Chasen, 64, who represented A-list movie stars and promoted some of Hollywood's top films, was driving to her Beverly Hills home on Nov. 16 after attending the premiere party for the movie Burlesque when she was shot five times.

Despite coverage that has speculated Chasen was killed as part of an elaborate plot, police now believe Smith, 43, an ex-convict, simply rode a bicycle alongside Chasen's Mercedes-Benz and opened fire as she waited to make a left turn off of Sunset Boulevard.

"We believe that Mr. Smith acted alone," Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden said. "We don't believe it was a professional hit."

Acting on information from a tipster to the TV show America's Most Wanted, police sought to question Smith at his home in Hollywood's Harvey Apartments on Dec. 1, they said. Before they could talk to him, though, he shot himself to death, splattering the apartment lobby with blood.

Smith boasted about committing the murder, claimed he had $10,000 coming to him for the crime and said he would not be willing to return to jail, neighbors told ABC News.

Beverly Hills Police repeatedly emphasized that the ballistics results matching the guns was preliminary and that the investigation continues.

"Through the interviews and the information we received," Publicker said, "that leads us to believe that he was at a desperate point in his life, and was reaching out and doing desperate measures."

Earlier reports that ballistics had failed to link the guns in the two crimes also were incorrect.

"That was wrong," Snowden said Wednesday. "It was erroneous information."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Ronni Chasen Murder: Neighbor Says Deceased Suspect Bragged About Killing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Neighbors of a Los Angeles man wanted for questioning in connection with the slaying of Ronni Chasen told ABC News Thursday that he had bragged about killing the powerhouse Hollywood publicist.

"He was like, you know that publicist, I killed her," said Terry Gilpin, 46, who lived in the same Beverly Hills apartment building as the man known to neighbors as "Harold."

The suspect fatally shot himself Wednesday night at the Harvey Apartments on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood as police closed in, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gilpin, and her husband, Brandon Harrison, 27, described an altercation with Harold two or three weeks ago during which he made threatening statements and cited his purported role in the killing of Chasen.

Chasen, 64, who represented A-list movie stars and promoted some of Hollywood's top films, was driving home Nov. 16 after attending the premiere party for the movie Burlesque when she was gunned down.

Police sources told ABC News that they plan to do a ballistics test to see if the gun used in the suicide is the gun used to kill Chasen.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Report: Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen May Have Been Victim of Planned Attack

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images | John Heller | NFL(LOS ANGELES) -- Police investigating the shooting attack that killed Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen believe it "was planned in advance and not the result of road rage or a carjacking gone awry," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter's website also said there was "relevant footage" from at least one security camera near the site of the shooting. It said the video came from the home of Sherry Hackett, widow of the late comedian and actor Buddy Hackett, who lived down the block.

Chasen, 64, was murdered after the leaving the premiere party for the Cher movie Burlesque early Tuesday morning.

She was shot five times in the chest before she crashed her Mercedes Benz E530 into a light pole.

Publicly, Beverly Hills police say they have few leads. "No motive, no suspects, no persons of interest," Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino told ABC News.

Chasen was shot on what Beverly Hills police told ABC News is "a safe street" in a residential area, just south of Sunset Boulevard. "It's a highly unusual case, especially for the city of Beverly Hills," Sgt. Lincoln said.

Police are also analyzing data from computers seized from the Beverly Hills public relations firm Chasen owned.

While police investigated Chasen's death, friends, family and stars mourned her.

Actor Morgan Freeman said in a statement, "I met Ronni when I was filming Driving Miss Daisy. We remained friends ever since. She is someone I greatly admired, and she will be remembered."

A funeral will be held for Chasen on Sunday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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