Rebecca Zahau’s Death In Mansion Ruled A Suicide,…


Rebecca Zahau’s Death In Mansion Ruled A Suicide, Sister Says (VIDEO)

SAN DIEGO — Investigators have ruled that a woman who was found hanging naked from a second-floor balcony at a historic California mansion with her wrists and ankles bound committed suicide, the woman’s sister said Thursday.

Mary Zahau-Loehner said she found investigators unconvincing during a visit to her home Wednesday in St. Joseph, Mo., to break the news.

“It doesn’t add up,” she told The Associated Press. “Nothing adds up.”

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell declined to comment. Sheriff Bill Gore planned a news conference Friday to discuss investigators’ findings.

Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found dead July 13 at the mansion in suburban Coronado, two days after a 6-year-old boy under her care was seriously injured in a fall down the stairs. Max Shacknai later died.

Both were linked to Jonah Shacknai, an Arizona pharmaceuticals magnate who owns the 27-room waterfront mansion. Zahau was his girlfriend of two years. Max was his son from a marriage that ended in divorce in 2008.

Zahau-Loehner said investigators told her they found no suicide note. They did share text messages on her phone from months earlier about “issues” between her and Shacknai’s children.

Zahau-Loehner said she spoke with her sister the night before her body was found and she gave no hint that she planned to take her life. She said she planned to bring Jonah Shacknai breakfast and a change of clothes the next morning to the hospital where his son was being treated.

Zahau also told her sister that she would call her parents in the morning on the way to the hospital. She emailed another sister in Germany to say she would be updating throughout the next day.

“Too detailed planning for someone who’s planning to end their life that night,” Zahau-Loehner said.

When Max fell down the stairs, Zahau was at home with a 13-year-old girl who was related to her, authorities say. He was hospitalized after paramedics found the boy wasn’t breathing and did not have a pulse.

Two days later, Shacknai’s brother, Adam, called 911 to report that Zahau appeared to be dead, investigators said. The brother was staying in a mansion guesthouse. Jonah Shacknai was not at home.

Investigators will also announce their findings on the boy’s death Friday. They initially said they believed the fall was an accident.

The home, known as the Spreckels mansion, is one of the more storied properties in Coronado, a small suburb of multimillion-dollar homes on the tip of a peninsula across a bay from downtown San Diego. The home has unobstructed beach views and sits near Coronado’s main street, which is lined with palm trees and upscale boutiques…..

Zahau, a native of Myanmar, was an ophthalmic technician at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center in the Phoenix area from April 2008 to December 2010.

Zahau-Loehner urged investigators keep the investigation open and said the family has hired an attorney.

“There are many unanswered questions,” she said.



Coronado Mansion Victim Rebecca Zahau Painted Message on Door

Coronado Mansion Victim Painted Message on Door Before She Died – ABC News


A naked woman found bound and hanged at a California millionaire’s historic mansion left a note written in black paint on the door leading to the balcony where she hung herself, investigators said today.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore would not describe the message painted on the door other than to say it was “not a clear suicide note.”

Nevertheless, the starkly written message helped convince investigators that Rebecca Zahau, 32, committed suicide and was not a homicide vicitm.

Zahau was the girlfriend of pharmaceutical mogul Jonah Shacknai. Her death came two days after Shacknai’s 6-year-old son Max fell down the stairs at the historic Spreckels Mansion where they were staying. The boy died of his injuries.

Jonah Shacknai released a statement today indicating that he accepts the results of the investigation, saying, “Nothing will ever be the same for our families after these losses, but with today’s information providing some much needed answers, we will try to rebuild our lives and honor the memories we carry with us.”  

Police have concluded that Zahau killed herself after she learned that Max was going to die from his injuries.

“She was obviously distraught,” Gore said. “Remember she was the person who found Max.” 

“Were these deaths the result of criminal conduct? Was Max’s death a homicide? The answer is no,” Gore told a news conference. “It was a tragic accident. Was Rebecca’s death a homicide? Again the answer is no. It was a suicide … These deaths were not the result of any criminal acts.”

Family Rejects Suicide Conclusion at Spreckels Mansion

Zahau’s sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner told today the family will request that police look further into her sister’s death and not rush into any conclusions.

“I do not want my sister’s death to be ruled a suicide just because you don’t have enough evidence to rule a homicide,” she said. “Nothing adds up.”

She said that her family has hired Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, who said the sheriff’s conclusion “doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Bremner said Zahau never expressed guilt to her family about Max’s accident.  

The lawyer told the family said the painted handwriting on the door did not match that of Zahau, who liked to paint as a hobby and had signed her paintings in the past.

Zahau’s body was found on the grounds of the mansion in Coronado, Calif., July 13. When police arrived they found her on the back lawn, her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound. Zahau is believed to have died early in the morning that day.

Zahau was found hanging by Shacknai’s brother Adam who was staying at the mansion. He told police he cut the body down.

“There’s mixed DNA [on the rope] — it’s what they told us,” Bremner said. Police told Zahau-Loehner they could not identify that DNA, Bremner said.

On the day that Max fell, Zahau’s 13-year-old sister was also at the home. Rebecca Zahau heard a loud noise and found Max at the bottom of the staircase next to a broken chandelier, police said.

Zahau, a former ophthalmic technician, performed CPR on Max and asked her younger sister to call 911, Zahau-Loehner told today.

Max was hospitalized, but because he had hit his head on the floor “he suffered injury to his upper spinal cord that stopped his heart and lungs. That resulted in brain damage. He subsequently died from that brain injury five days later,” said Dr. Jonathan Lucas, who conducted Max’s autopsy.

At about 12:50 a.m. on July 13, police say Zahau listened to a message from an unidentified person telling her that Max’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. Bremner said that message was from Zahau’s boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai.

“We know from our investigation that message left on her phone was to inform Rebecca of Max’s grave condition and imminent death,” said San Diego County Sgt. Dave Nemeth.

It was at that time that police believe she decided to end her life.

Investigators say she likely found the red rope wrapped around her hands, neck and feet in the garage….


Coronado mansion death called suicide; family objects –

LOS ANGELES – A woman found dead, hanging naked with her hands bound behind her back at a historic Coronado, Calif., mansion in July, killed herself hours after learning that her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son was near death from injuries sustained in a fall two days earlier, authorities said Friday.

An attorney for the family of Rebecca called the medical examiner’s suicide conclusion “ridiculous.”

The two mysterious deaths in one week at the historic $12 million Spreckels mansion in a tony beach resort near San Diego has captivated this normally reserved community and the nation as the bizarre details trickled out.

Zahau, 32, the girlfriend of Jonah Shacknai, CEO of the Arizona-based pharmaceutical company that produces cosmetic drugs such as Restylane, used kitchen knives to cut lengths of red nautical rope she found in the oceanfront mansion’s garage and then bound her own hands and feet with it, said homicide Sgt. Dave Nemeth of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

She attached the rope to the footboard of a bed in the guest room, slipped a noose around her neck, went through the room’s double doors onto the balcony and hurled herself over the scrollwork, wrought-iron railing, he said.

Shacknai’s brother, Adam, who was visiting from Memphis and was staying in the mansion’s guest house, found Zahau’s body at 6:48 a.m. on July 13, Nemeth said.

“When she was found in the courtyard, part of the rope was still grasped in her fingers,” Nemeth said.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Zahau left a “message” scrawled in black paint on the door of the guest room. He would not disclose what the message said, but did not characterize it as a suicide note.

Investigators found black paint on Zahau’s hand, torso and the rope around her neck. They found only Zahau’s fingerprints in the guest room and on the knives and two paintbrushes left on the bedroom floor. Footprints left on the balcony match Zahau’s and the boot of police officers who investigated the scene, Nemeth said. Police also re-enacted their scenario to determine whether it’s possible to bind one’s own hands and feet, he said.

“No one witnessed this event. We don’t know in what order things were done,” he said. “This was the best conclusion we could come to: She made the decision to take her own life.”

Medical examiner Jonathan Lucas found no evidence of a struggle or sexual assault and said he easily removed the bindings from her hands and wrists.

“I’ll be the first to admit this is a unique and unusual case,” Lucas said.

Such suicides are “unusual, but I don’t think it’s unprecedented,” Gore said. “There were indications she’d been unhappy for a while.”

A friend told investigators Zahau had been depressed for several months, Nemeth said. Investigators also found a journal on her phone that confirmed the friend’s conclusion, he said.

Nemeth also said Zahau was “distraught over Max’s injury,” although she never visited him in the hospital.

Police believe Zahau checked her voicemail for the last time at 12:50 a.m., when she listened to a message indicating Shacknai’s son Max’s condition was increasingly grave and his death was imminent. Zahau was at the mansion in the bathroom when the boy apparently ran down a third-floor hallway, tripped and soared over the balcony onto the carpet three floors below.

The fall bent Max’s head backwards, injuring his upper cervical spinal, which interfered with his breath and heartbeat, Lucas said. A lack of oxygen damaged the boy’s brain, which led to his death six days later.

Coronado Police Cmdr. Mike Lawton said investigators found no sign of foul play and believe Max’s death was “a tragic accident.” He added that Shacknai was at the hospital with his son when Zahau died.

Shacknai in a statement said the investigation provided “some much-needed answers.”

Anne Bremner, a Seattle lawyer hired by the Zahau family this week, said the San Diego Sheriff’s Department’s finding “doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Bremner said she and the family met with investigators for more than three hours this week and that the family was distraught over the conclusion. Zahau’s sister Mary Zahau-Loehner said she disagreed with investigators and was disappointed with the conclusion.

Bremner said there is no precedent for a woman committing suicide in the manner in which San Diego authorities contend.

“This would be the first case in the history of the world that a woman killed herself like this,” she said. “It’s ridiculous on the face of it.”

She complained that the meeting was the first time investigators had met in person to discuss the case with Zahau’s relatives, who live in Missouri, and that the San Diego authorities had already reached their conclusions.

Bremner said the family does not believe the note found on the door was in Rebecca Zahau’s handwriting. She said the note was ambiguous in meaning.

“They strongly believe the note found at the scene was not her handwriting,” Bremner said.

She said authorities need to have an outside review of some of the evidence, including an analysis of the handwriting in the note, and that polygraph tests should be conducted of “those closest to the victim.”

She said Zahau had never displayed depression or signs of suicide, and had not indicated to others that she blamed herself for the accident that led to the boy’s death. She had been upbeat in an evening phone call with family before her death, Bremner said.

She said officials explained Zahau’s nudity in death by saying she routinely slept without clothing.

Bremner said Zahau was not alone in the mansion when Max had his accident. She said that two of the child’s teenage siblings were present and that Zahau was in the shower at the time of the accident. Max’s mother and Jonah Shacknai were divorced, and Zahau had recently divorced as well.

“I really hope they will reconsider and really fully investigate this case,” Bremner said. “This department needs to be more measured and careful. … My belief is she did not kill herself.”




Woman killed herself after learning that boy would die

Woman killed herself after learning that boy would die –,0,1323371.story

Rebecca Zahau committed suicide at the Spreckels mansion after being told the son of boyfriend Jonah Shacknai was fatally injured from falling while he was in her care, officials say.

Reporting from San Diego — The girlfriend of pharmaceutical executive Jonah Shacknai committed suicide at his Coronado mansion after learning that his son would not survive injuries suffered in an accident while in her care, authorities announced Friday.

Rebecca Zahau, 32, killed herself within hours of learning that 6-year-old Max Shacknai was going to die of an injury incurred when he tumbled down the grand staircase at the Ocean Boulevard mansion, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said at a morning news conference. The boy’s death was a “tragic accident,” he said.

Shacknai expressed his appreciation Friday for the “professionalism and dedication” of San Diego County law enforcement officials who spent seven weeks “investigating and explaining these terrible events.”

“While the investigation is over,” Shacknai said in a statement, “the emptiness and sadness in our hearts will remain forever. Max was an extraordinarily loving, happy, talented and special little boy…. Rebecca too was a wonderful and unique person who will always have a special place in my heart.”

Zahau’s nude body was found hanging by her neck in the courtyard of the mansion on the morning of July 13.

Two days earlier, Max Shacknai had tumbled down stairs from a second-story landing at the Coronado home, landing on his head. He was not breathing and had no pulse when paramedics arrived moments later, investigators said.

Zahau was found with her hands and feet loosely bound, and a rope around her neck was tied to a second-story balcony outside her bedroom. Although the way she killed herself may seem unusual, it is not unprecedented in suicide cases and there is no evidence that there was foul play, Gore and others said.

“It’s not something you come across every day, but it does occur,” said Dr. Jonathan Lucas, deputy county medical examiner. “People bind themselves so they don’t change their minds midway through.”

Zahau’s fingerprints and DNA were the only ones found on the rope and on the knife she used to cut it into pieces and place sections around her feet and hands and around her neck, said Sgt. David Nemeth of the sheriff’s homicide squad…..





Jonah Shacknai Talks Publicly About Mansion Tragedy [8-09-2011]

Jonah Shacknai Talks Publicly About Mansion Tragedy [8-09-2011] – YouTube




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