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Rebecca Zahau: Murder or Suicide? Coronado, CA

Discussion in 'Crimes' started by SoSueMe, Apr 17, 2015.


What caused Rebecca's death?

  1. Murder

    17 vote(s)
  2. Suicide

    2 vote(s)
  3. Accident then staged

    1 vote(s)
  4. Other

    0 vote(s)
  1. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Administrative Manager Staff Member

    A $10 million civil lawsuit claiming Rebecca Zahau’s death was a murder, not a suicide, has been amended to allege new details of how three people conspired to kill her, beating, gagging and strangling Zahau before pushing her off a balcony.

    The wrongful death lawsuit, originally filed in July 2013 by Zahau’s family, was amended last month by attorney Keith Greer. On Friday, all attorneys involved in the case met to discuss details and future court dates.

    On July 13, 2011, the nude body of Zahau, 32, was found bound and hanging from a balcony at the famous Spreckels Mansion in Coronado. A cryptic message written in black paint was found just outside the second-story room in the house, which read: “She saved him. Can you save her.”

    Her death came two days after her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai’s 6-year-old son, Max Shacknai, fatally fell at the home while under Zahau’s watch.

    Video and more information at the link.
  2. fran

    fran Administrator Staff Member

    Lawyer: New evidence proves Zahau was murdered

    SAN DIEGO -- New evidence could be presented at a civil hearing in federal court Friday that would turn one of San Diego County's most infamous cases from suicide to murder.

    On July 13, 2011, 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau was found naked and hanging from the second-story balcony of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado.

    Two days prior, on July 11, Max Shacknai, the six-year-old son of Zahau's millionaire boyfriend Jonah Shacknai, fell down some stairs. He died three days later in what was considered a freak accident. At the time, he was under Zahau's care.

    After a months-long investigation, the San Diego County Medical Examiner and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department ruled Zahau’s death a suicide. Zahau was found with her hands and feet bound behind her back with red rope. Her mouth had been gagged. Investigators said she then hopped over a balcony and hung herself. But Zahau’s family refuses to believe she took her own life. They hired attorney Keith Greer to prove she was murdered.

    Greer believes that Adam Shacknai, Dina Shacknai and Nina Romano were behind Zahau’s death. Adam is Jonah Shacknai’s brother. Jonah is a wealthy Arizona businessman who was dating Rebecca. Dina is Jonah’s ex-wife. Nina is Dina’s twin sister.

    read more ........... http://www.10news.com/news/lawyer-new-evidence-proves-zahau-murdered
    Uno2Much, Yoda and Kimster like this.
  3. fran

    fran Administrator Staff Member

    I just want to say that I personally don't believe this was murder, I think it was suicide. I also don't think this is 'new evidence' and if it is to them, it's been there the entire time.

    When this case first happened, I noted that inscription up there and felt it was Rebecca's message to Jonah. This happened just at the time Pirates of the Caribbean had been released on video and they watched it regularly because of Max. There was a scene in the movie that this writing makes reference to. There was also a song that played during the scene and it was a big romantic highlight of the movie, imho.

    The problem with experts is, if you go to enough of them and pay them enough, you can find someone that will back up your opinion or view.

    No one wants to believe their loved one would commit suicide. It's very sad, but I do think Rebecca did kill herself. I know it doesn't look like it to some but when this began, there were a lot of notes and articles to show the way Rebecca was found was very feasible.

    This is all JMHO and I could be wrong.
    Bigskyy, Yoda and spike like this.
  4. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    noZme, patsella and Kimster like this.
  5. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    Evidence room unlocked in mysterious death of Rebecca Zahau at Spreckels Mansion

    The evidence room has been unlocked in the mysterious death of a woman at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado.

    Attorney Keith Greer, who is representing the Zahau family in a wrongful death lawsuit, gave ABC15 sister station 10News exclusive access to pictures and video from the evidence room that he said holds countless clues that point to murder.

    Greer said, "The evidence is very strong … One of the unusual things about this case is there is really a lack of DNA."

    "What do you attribute that to?" asked 10News anchor Itica Milanes.

    "I think somebody cleaned everything up," Greer answered.

    One of the most perplexing pieces of evidence is a bedroom door with a hand-painted riddle on it that says: "She saved him. Can he save her?"

    "The note was written by the person who killed Rebecca," said Greer.

    Greer said the sheriff's department never analyzed the handwriting.

    However, Greer did, and his experts say it implicates one person -- Adam Shacknai, the man named in the civil suit.

    Adam Shacknai is the brother of Zahau's boyfriend, Jonah, a pharmaceutical tycoon. Adam was staying in his guest house at the time.

    As for the knots that bound Zahau, Greer said, "This wasn't a novice. You had to have some understanding of knot tying. There are marine knot characteristics involved and principles which is consistent with Adam being a tugboat captain."

    A trial is scheduled to begin in June.

    Uno2Much, Lily, walkie-talkie and 3 others like this.
  6. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    'Vindicated': Dina Shacknai Reacts to Removal from Rebecca Zahau Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    The woman once named as a suspect in the high-profile death inside a Coronado mansion spoke with NBC 7 exclusively Thursday, saying she feels vindicated now that her name has been removed from a wrongful death lawsuit.

    A $10 million civil lawsuit filed in 2014 claimed Zahau’s death was a murder, not a suicide as the San Diego County Sheriff's Department investigation concluded.

    The lawsuit alleged Zahau was beaten, gagged and strangled before she was pushed off a balcony. The original suit named Dina Shacknai, her sister Nina Romero and Jonah's brother, Adam Shacknai, as defendants.

    This week, the attorney for the Zahau family announced he was removing Dina Shacknai and Nina Romero from the suit based on images from security surveillance video that shows the women at a hospital at the time investigators determined Zahau died.

    On Thursday, Dina Shacknai said she does not believe Zahau committed suicide. However, she's relieved that she has been exonerated.

    To those who may still question the death of Rebecca Zahau, she said she agrees more investigation should be done.

    “If I were their family I would want those answers also,” she said. “Those pictures, it’s really hard to confirm or agree with the pronouncements made by the various agencies.”

  7. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Dina doesn't believe she committed suicide, either? I don't remember her speaking out about that before.
  8. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    The Mysterious Deaths That Rocked a Wealthy Southern California Enclave
    Two bizarre deaths in 2011 rocked the community of Coronado, California and sent internet sleuths into a frenzy. Now a trial looms, but will justice be served?

    A trial is made up of competing tales, versions of events that attorneys strive to convince jurors are the truth. Months before a civil wrongful death trial set to start later this winter, Dina Shacknai invites me to her home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a rich town dotted with golf courses and tennis courts, having agreed, with no small amount of ambivalence, to give me her account of what happened to a woman named Rebecca Zahau and to Dina’s son Max Shacknai, who was six years old at the time.

    In the years since her death, most of the attention has been on Rebecca, and the civil case (set to go to trial in San Diego Superior Court in February 2018) is not likely to change that. “Nobody talks about Max,” says Nina Romano, “but if he hadn’t died, maybe Rebecca would be alive.”

    Dina made a point of attending or listening to every deposition, and looking at all manner of videos, recordings, statements, and other kinds of documents. She has pored over photos taken at the scene of Max’s “accident” like a JFK conspiracy buff looking at the Zapruder film. Using her training as a child psychologist, Dina has weighed a number of theories and developed an eye for inconsistencies and unanswered questions.

    Like, why did Rebecca scream at her sister Xena at the end of her 911 call, as paramedics stood on the porch, “Don’t open that door!” Was she aware of some danger she hadn’t shared with her? Why did the police ignore a neighbor two doors from the mansion who told them she heard a woman crying for help at 11:30 the night Rebecca died?

    Why did former San Diego DA turned criminal defense attorney Paul Pfngst visit the crime scene the day of Rebecca’s death? Pfngst said he was hired to represent someone involved in the case, but the person who hired him was not Jonah. And why did two agents of the state’s justice department interview Dina at her house in Coronado on Wednesday, July 13, the day Rebecca’s body was found? After asking her if she knew of anyone who would want to hurt Rebecca, they stunned her by asking, “Do you know anyone who would want to hurt Max?”

    “When people say I’m over-the-top,” Dina says, “I point to the fact that Max and Rebecca are deceased, and there are no answers.”

    Very good case recap at link. Way too much to copy here - http://www.townandcountrymag.com/so...6/shaknai-deaths-mystery-coronado-california/
  9. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    New evidence in 2011 death of Rebecca Zahau disproves suicide, family attorney says

    A lawsuit filed in the death of 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau is making the case that her death was indeed a murder.

    In a wrongful death lawsuit brought forth by Zahau's family, attorney Keith Greer said Sheriff's investigators incorrectly ruled Zahau's death as a suicide.

    Rather, Greer said he believes the evidence points to the brother of Zahau's boyfriend, Adam Shacknai, who was staying at the guest house of where Zahau was found dead on July 13, 2011.

    This was just a couple days after her boyfriend's son, Max, fell down some stairs and died in what was considered an accident. At the time, Max was under Zahau's care.

    The family's lawsuit is against Shacknai.

    Greer believes the evidence shows fingerprints and DNA were cleaned off surfaces and handwriting of a mysterious note at the scene points to Shacknai.

    The attorney also said evidence on a bloody knife indicates it was used to sexually assault Zahau.

  10. Uno2Much

    Uno2Much Bronze Member


    I just read an in-depth article on this case, and either wasn't aware of some of the details of Rebecca's death or had forgotten them. I agree her death wasn't a suicide. But, in the quote above, I wonder if the 911 operator mis-heard Rebecca and she actually yelled, "Go open that door!" She would be aware from the dispatcher that paramedics had arrived, wouldn't she? She knew Max's fragile condition so I'm sure she was desperate to get him help ASAP. I wonder if Xena confirmed the words the 911 operator heard. She would be around 19 now; it would be good to hear from her on what happened the day of Max's accident from her perspective.
  11. Uno2Much

    Uno2Much Bronze Member

    Mystery of bound woman found hanged at California mansion goes to court

    SAN DIEGO — Officially, Rebecca Zahau died at her own hand.

    Investigators who first looked around the Coronado, Calif., mansion where she reportedly was found hanging — naked, gagged and bound hand and foot — suspected they had a homicide on their hands.

    But after a seven-week investigation, Sheriff Bill Gore held a news conference to announce that evidence and autopsy results led to the conclusion that Zahau’s death on July 13, 2011, was a suicide.

    Zahau’s mother and sister have refused to believe that the 32-year-old surgical technician with a strong Christian faith killed herself. This week, trial is to start in San Diego County Superior Court in the family’s wrongful death lawsuit.

    Read more: https://www.dailyrepublic.com/wires...d-hanged-at-california-mansion-goes-to-court/
    GarAndMo49, Kimster, fran and 2 others like this.
  12. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Rebecca Zahau was found naked and hanging from a balcony at the mansion owned by her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai, the CEO of a pharmaceutical company.

    It happened just two days after Shacknai's six-year-old son Max from a previous marriage had fallen to his death from a second-story balcony at the mansion.

    The family claim that Mr Shacknai's brother Adam, a tugboat operator from Tennessee, blamed her for the tragedy because she was responsible for the boy at the time.

    They allege that he killed Rebecca in revenge and have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

    It is claimed that he was the only other person in the house when she died and also that Rebecca's legs and arms had been bound.

    Investigators recorded her death as suicide in 2011.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5440193/Dead-mother-naked-hanging-balcony.html#ixzz58LKOF2JG
  13. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

  14. Uno2Much

    Uno2Much Bronze Member

    He seemed pretty abrasive; acted rather inconvenienced about being questioned. IDK, maybe it's just his character. I guess I'd be more suspicious if he remembered every detail, but it would be helpful to know which questions on the poly he didn't do well on.
  15. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    It's not about his tone or mannerisms -- though those are worth looking at imo -- but more about his use of 'stalling language' and other linguistic red flags..

    Here's a very rushed few notes on why I'm eyeballing this hard.

    Note, a lot is missing from the recording, only 3 questions are present on the tape. I wish I had the full interview!


    AS: I think... I g.. I got up and reached her and realised I wasn't going to be able to get her off without a knife. You know I probably tried to just.. realised.. I probably quite quickly... you know.. I realised this ain't gon' happen.. you know.. like this. I went around the back... into the house... which the door was open.... I got a knife from their butcher block thing ..

    --- Lily: He can recall whether the door was 'open' or not, but cannot recall if RZ was naked. Okay. And it's curious to me as to -why- he felt he had to include that detail, when other, much more crucial details are 'a blur'. Worth noting that 'tried' and 'realised' are both red-flag words I've often noticed in untruthful statements regarding suspicious deaths.

    PR: Mhm

    AS: ...came back out ..cut her down... and tried call 9-1-1 shortly thereafter... if not before.

    ----Lily: but in a moment, he's perfectly clear on when the call was made, so why fudge it at this point? The use of 'tried' is a red flag for deception-- he either called 911, or did not (and we know he did), so why say he 'tried'?

    PR: Okay. Did you at any point think she was alive?

    AS: I'm don't... you know. Call me a can-do person or something?... but... probably not but I thought, how would I answer if I ...if I.. for this, if.. if I didn't try something.

    --- Lily: RZ was --well and truly dead-- by the time the 911 call was made, and if you've ever discovered/touched a body several hours after death (I have) there is NO way you'd have any doubt that the person is 100% long dead and gone. I -always- find CPR attempts on hours-dead people in suspicious cases worth examining more closely, for this reason... CPR attempts are a great way to explain blood/saliva/dna being on a body, as well as the body/evidence being moved.

    PR: Okay so you tried some...

    AS: I'm a responsible person.

    PR: Okay, tried some CPR ...

    AS: Yeah

    PR: Okay, and have you been trained in that? With the boat stuff?

    AS: Years and years ago.

    PR: Okay

    AS: Not enough to amount to anything.

    --- This strikes me as 'fudging language'. Blind Freddy would have known RZ was 100% dead and gone at that point, but here AS feels the need to underline how little he knows about CPR... as if it could have mattered. I find that very odd.

    PR: OK. So, tried some CPR. Now... and so... was there anything else unusual? What kinda.. she's hanging... was it like a bed sheet or w..?

    AS: It was a f***ing rope, man, a red rope. Unless my memory is failing me, you know, so I (mumble)... it wasn't just something that you would be laying around somewhere. I wouldn't think.

    --- Lily: AS only uses the 'f-word' as a gerund three times in all this.. even assuming he swears a lot as part of normal speech, it's interesting to mote that he uses the gerund (f-ing) as an adjective/expletive here before three words only -- 'rope', 'gag' and 'mouth'.

    The only other f-word is right before 'it's my brother's girlfriend', but in that context it's used as in 'to hell with it' rather than a modifying adjective-expletive like the others, so seems a lot more natural use for the word, for somebody who swears a lot.

    PR: Alright. So could you tell whether it was umm.. what material...

    AS: Kinda like a Kevlar, synthetic.

    --- Lily: He remembers this detail just fine. No fudging language on that, at all.

    PR: OK. Like nylon...

    AS: Yeah!

    PR: ... or something like that?

    PR: Okay and so what, she'd no shoes, not a stitch on?

    AS: Not that I recall

    ------ Lily: Can recall what the rope was made of just fine, but can't remember whether RZ was nude or not. Okay.

    PR: So her hands were hanging down by her side then?

    ---------Lily: check out how garbled this is, huge red flags for deception for me here:

    AS: I...I don't.. I don't know, because here's the thing, I don't remember about her hands. Because. After I cut her down I went to take her pulse... you know... at some point, which I didn't even do at first. I remember having to... get something out of the way... of her hands...

    PR: Mhm

    AS: ... and... that's why I've been asking these detectives and stuff if she was tied up or what. I mean I'm like, I'm kinda (talking over each other) a blur.

    PR: (both talking over each other) a blur, yeah..

    ---Lily: Interesting he thinks it's necessary to explain (more than once) that this is 'why' he's asking police questions regarding the crime scene. If he actually even did that.

    AS: You know but -- but I remember having to move something to try to get her pulse out of the way -- you know very much (talking over each other)

    PR: You have a (read? about?) anything unusual?

    AS: I don't remember that, but I just... I fear... I hope to God she wasn't tied up but... again, I asked the detectives that... you know... I don't recall.

    ----- Lily: More red flags here, lots of 'trying-to-convince' type language. And in the end, the standard liar's lack of 'recall'.

    PR: And as far as the CPR, you did the chest compressions and then did you blow in her mouth and nose?

    AS: I..I... I got the... once I got 911 on the line, I went ahead and blew in her mouth.

    ---- Lily: But he just said a moment ago he isn't sure when he made the call, see red part above.

    PR: Okay, and her mouth was open and clear and everything?

    AS: I didn't even do all that at first. I should have. I didn't. I didn't do that tilt. I think they said tilt the head back and do that. I didn't do any of that stuff.

    PR: OK

    AS: I just put my mouth over hers and said f*** it, it's my brother's girlfriend and I'll do it. And I did it.

    --- Lily: it's.. IT is... rather than 'she', and use of a long 'title' rather than her name -- which he clearly knew. All very distancing, which is a red flag.

    PR: And there was no tape across her mouth or anything like this?

    AS: No. There was f***ing c.. a gag in her mouth though.

    PR: A gag in her mouth?

    AS: Yeah

    PR: What was that?

    AS: Something, you know, I had to pull something out of her f***ing mouth. It was like a blue scarf.

    -- Lily: it's not as if he hasn't had time to think over what happened, and in what order. But he doesn't --volunteer-- info about the "f---ing gag" until asked about it, and then acts like he's just now remembered it. I'd be very interested to know whether details of what the gag actually was were in the news by then, or not.

    PR: Hm.. as does it seem to you as like it's a suicide, now, with that...?

    AS: Yes! Absolutely!

    PR: And what makes you think that?

    AS: It's just what.. what's crossing my mind.. you know...it just.. because... I thought... she was there.. when Max got hurt...supposedly. Um.... you know, maybe she just can't live with it.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  16. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    As for remembering every detail... I can still recall every detail in clarity, from when I found that body, almost 30 years ago-- and that was a terrible shock to me, very personal and awful. But nothing was "a blur", including what he was wearing, and where his hands were. And I certainly knew that cpr was -not- going to help, because rigor mortis had set in, as it does after someone's been dead a few hours.

    I know 'people recall things differently'.. but I'm not buying 'it was all a blur' from Adam Shacknai, for several reasons.
  17. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    The bizarre 911 call.

    "Are you ALIVE?!"

  18. guess who

    guess who Bronze Member

    Doesn't remember if she was naked??? What dude could say this and mean it?
  19. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Yeah, this is not a good sign.
    GarAndMo49 and Uno2Much like this.
  20. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    To be clear on that, he says 'not that i recall' when asked whether rz was wearing anything-- though he handled her body and was right there with her for some time... Most people would say a firm "No." also odd that he can't remember where her hands were, when they were clearly tied -- and he had to know that, he was right there. It's like he's terrified of getting tripped up... yet contradicts himself on important points.

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