In Depth

CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller Discusses 1981 Natalie Wood Death on 'CBS This Morning'

Press release from CBS, Jan. 14, 2013

A new coroner’s report on the 1981 death of Hollywood star Natalie Wood suggests her injuries could be more consistent with an assault than an accident, CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller revealed today, Jan. 14, 2013, on CBS THIS MORNING on the CBS Television Network (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM).

Below is a transcript of the interview:

CHARLIE ROSE: So how significant is this, and what could it change?

JOHN MILLER: It could be very significant, because it shows that the coroner is now going down the same path as the sheriff’s homicide investigators, which is they have real questions about the circumstances of Natalie Wood’s death or that it should have ever been labeled an accident based on the medical evidence. Now, the sheriff’s working with the evidence of the investigation, and so far those haven’t come together, but I think what you’re going to see is more impetus for the sheriff’s homicide investigation to go forward.

NORAH O’DONNELL: We asked you, you know, is this a big deal, and you’ve said it is. And you’ve talked to people who have read through this whole report and their reaction has been, what about some of the revelations we’re going to learn?

MILLER: Basically, they’re saying that this is not a new autopsy. This is the old autopsy with a supplemental report written on the bottom where the current medical examiner, the coroner of L.A. County, basically takes—calls into question every finding about the injuries or the conclusion that it’s an accident. And when you take the circumstances as we’ve now come to learn them, Natalie Wood was, you know, in her night gown in bed, she supposedly goes out to retie this dinghy. She can’t swim. She’s afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of the water. It sounds very unlikely she would have done that, especially when the captain—the skipper was there and he was awake, and she could have told him to do that.

O’DONNELL: So specifically, what are the key things in this report that are raising new questions?

MILLER: The location, the position, the shape and size of the bruises. The fact that they are arguably more consistent with either being restrained during a struggle or defensive wounds than they are with trying to climb back onto a dinghy that you were hanging on to through the night. And the fact that out of 200 boats in that cove, and now I’m shipping out of the autopsy and into the investigation, only one person has ever said that they heard her calling for help while she was supposed to be drowning.

ROSE: So on questions like bruises, why didn’t they get that the first time, in the first report?

MILLER: Well, that’s the million-dollar question, Charlie, which was, did they mail it in? Was this a thing where you had a big Hollywood star there, you had people who wanted to avoid bad publicity, and you didn’t have a smoking gun murder, and they just, you know, gave it a once-over? But I think the signal we’re going to get when this report is released later today that they concluded too fast.

O’DONNELL: So is the suggestion that she may have been killed before going overboard?

MILLER: I think that the overarching suggestion from the observations made in the supplemental are going to be that she was already unconscious in some likelihood when she went into the water, which suggests—I mean it certainly raises the possibility.

ROSE: So how did she get into the water?

MILLER: It certainly raises the possibility she had some help getting there, and when you’re unconscious, we call that suspicious.