The original statement by Robert Wagner confirmed the findings of investigators: he was deceptively withholding information.
Here, media has given us two statements made shortly after Natalie Wood's death. What do the statements show?
We reached the boat in a happy frame of mind after spending a few hours at the restaurant eating and drinking. During dinner, I got into a political debate with Walken and we continued it aboard the yacht. There was no fight, no anger. Just a lot of words thrown around like you hear in most political discussions such as “you don’t know what you are talking about!” Natalie sat there not saying much of anything and looking bored. She left us after about a half hour, and we sat there talking for almost another hour. Then I went to kiss her good night, and found her missing.
I previously noted that in Wagner's perception of the relationship, it was unlikely that he premeditated the death: that is, prior to sailing, although there were problems in the marriage and Wood had a deep fear of water, he did not intend to murder her. The pronoun "we" is very powerful, and application of advanced analysis suggests that Wagner may have even recognized that he was ultimately responsible, not for her death, but for the altercation's genesis: why they fought. Regarding "what happened", note how early Wagner feels the need to begin the account: "We reached the boat in a happy frame of mind after spending a few hours at the restaurant eating and drinking." This is to say, within analysis, her death began before she boarded the yacht. This is not reality but his verbalized perception of it. 1. The death began in the hours before. 2. He introduces alcohol into the event 3. He has a need to portray the time period as "happy", which is unnecessary to report, unless, of course, it is necessary for him. The emotional state should be immaterial in an accidental death, but knowing the context, we continue to listen to his need to portray. He now introduces a new element of emotion. "We" and "happy frame" is now countered: During dinner, I got into a political debate withWalken and we continued it aboard the yacht.
He goes back in time, breaking naturally chronology, of which our memory works. This is an example of one who is now artificially editing the account of what happened, in order to complete his portrait of what police commonly call, "story telling." Keep in mind that even "story telling" relies upon technically truthful elements rather than provoke the stress of direct deception. It also slows down the pace of "what happened" to his wife. Note "I" and "Walken" are separated by the word "with", which indicates distance. Contextually, we may conclude that the political debate created this distance yet, something produced unity ("we") when the debate took to the yacht. This is a key point in the interview of Walken: perception of the discussion. Are we to believe that the distance of a debate suddenly created unity as the debate, itself, continued on the yacht? This, too, suggests not only artificial editing, but that something created unity. Was "we" meaning he and Walken? Or did it now include Wood? It is "incongruent" and must be explored. *Was something said between Wagner and Walken specifically about Natalie Wood that would be positive to the hearing of Wagner?
Wagner goes on to theorize about how Wood had gotten into the water:
It was only afterI was told that she was dressed in a sleeping gown, heavy socks, and a parka that it dawned on me what had really occurred.
This shows the same need to slow down the pace and distance himself from the victim. "Only after" is a phrase that not only indicates the element of timing as very sensitive to him, but at the exclusion of all else. This is unnecessary to state. "Only" is a dependent word; that is, it only "works" when someone is thinking of at least one other thing. "Only" is now put with "after" (time) which seeks to compare this time period with something else. If I say, "this car for sale is "only" $20,000", I am using the word "only" to trigger the recipient audience into thinking of a greater number than $20,000.
Wagner is preempting a claim of timing (when) something happened. It continues: "I was told" avoids telling us who told him (passive).
With timing so very sensitive to him, he says: "that it dawned on me what had really occurred." Not only is he slowing down the pace, he doubles up on it with the word "dawned", which is to come to knowledge within the passing of time. This doubles down on "time" for him. The distancing he seeks to create is acute and within narrative building (story telling, editorializing).
Natalie obviously had trouble sleeping with that dinghy slamming up against the boat. It happened many, many times before, and I had always gone out and pulled the ropes tighter to keep the dinghy flush against the yacht.
"obviously" is to take without question which we now identify as something he wants to pass unquestioned. However we question everything. This is the "Normal" Factor. He is telling us what "normally happens" rather than what happened. The "Normal Factor" in analysis suggests the need to portray, rather than truthful reporting. We hear it often in substance abusers. Why is it obvious? Does the audience know Natalie's normal sleep issues when on this particular yacht? This is "story telling." He also shows two things: a. What a good guy he is. The "Good Guy" indicates awareness of being the "bad guy" or wrong doing. b. Allow for specific guilt. Liars often reject A, B, and C, but gladly embrace D, just to appear truthful. This is part of "Need for Portrait" Did you notice that he finally used her name? (see the previous statement where the victim's name is not used). Question: What is the context of the victim being "Natalie"? Answer: The context of personalizing the victim is outside the scope of "what happened"; instead relying upon what she "normally" went through. This is outside the time period of what happened. In the time period, she was only a pronoun, not "Natalie."
Note the need for detail:
She probably skidded on one of the steps after untying the ropes. The steps are slick as ice because of the algae and seaweed that’s always clinging to them. After slipping on the steps, she hit her head against the boat. . . . I only hope she was unconscious when she hit the water.
In the death of Natalie Wood, the subject, Robert Wagner, has a need to deceive investigators as to her cause of death. This is consistent with the first analysis and the findings of investigators. For training in deception detection, contact Hyatt Analysis Services.