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New details raise questions about Natalie Wood's death

Details released this week about Natalie Wood’s death in 1981 have raised new questions about how the actress drowned off the coast of Santa Catalina Island.

Injuries such as fresh bruising on Wood’s right forearm, left wrist and right knee along with a scratch on her neck and a superficial scrape on her forehead have opened the possibility the 43-year-old actress was assaulted before the infamous accident.

In a coroner’s report released Monday, the cause of death was changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

PHOTOS: Natalie Wood | 1938-1981

"This Examiner is unable to exclude non-accidental mechanism causing these injuries," the report said, adding that evidence suggested the bruising occurred before Wood entered the water.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case in November 2011 amid speculation about whether there was anything new to be learned in the death, which was previously ruled accidental.

Though the case remains open, detectives have reached an impasse.

One law enforcement source who has worked on the case said detectives may never have answers given the “evidence is stale -– with fading memories and incomplete forensics.”

FULL COVERAGE: Natalie Wood investigation reopened

The new report noted "conflicting statements" about when Wood disappeared and whether she had argued with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, who — along with Christopher Walken, her costar in the film "Brainstorm" — were aboard the 60-foot yacht where she was last seen alive Nov. 28, 1981.

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-- Christopher Goffard, Kate Mather and Richard Winton

 
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