Bizarre Tragedies at Coronado Mansion are Ruled Accident, Suicide
September 3, 2011


A whirlwind of debate is surrounding a recent Hollywood style crime scene after a press conference Friday. What seemed clearly to be a homicide case has now been ruled a suicide by investigators. Everyone from local San Deigo television stations to Good Morning America have reported every twist and turn of this tragic story.

Rebecca Zahau was found bound by her hands and feet, naked, hanging from a balcony at a historical Coronado mansion. The mansion belongs to Medicis CEO Jonah Shacknai, the boyfriend of Zahau at the time of her death. Shacknai was at the hospital with his dying son on July 13th when his brother discovered Zahau’s hanging body. Two days before her death, Shacknai’s son, Max, fell down the stairs and later passed away as a result of the sustained injuries. Rebecca Zahau, who performed CPR on little Max immediately after the accident, was the only adult home when it happened.

The Coronado house known as "Spreckels Mansion."

The days before Rebecca’s suspicious death gave no indication she wanted to end her life. She had been in contact with her family several times and promised to keep them updated about the state of Max Shacknai. However, police were quick to say that suicide was being considered as a possible cause. Immediately after the autopsy and investigation began, police sealed the case, leaving us all to fill in the gaps with pure speculation.

At the briefing Friday, investigators went into a detailed analysis of exactly how Zahau could have successfully ended her life in the manner that she did. Around midnight of the night she allegedly killed herself, she received a voicemail about the state of Max’s grave condition. Police say grief and guilt overwhelmed Zahau, causing her to commit suicide. After painting a cryptic message on her bedroom door, she wrapped the rope around her neck. Then she tied her feet and made a loose, handcuff-style knot to slide her hands into behind her back. Finally she climbed over the side of the railing and jumped off to her death. Investigators claimed that her DNA was the only DNA found at the crime scene and have no evidence pointing to homicide.

Zahau’s family simply isn’t buying it though. Zahau’s sister has told various media sources that they will be hiring an attorney and a detective to further investigate this tragic event. Her sister has repeatedly said that Zahau would never have ended her own life because of her religious beliefs and passion for life. Sherriff Bill Gore only said it was “unfortunate” that the family is not coming to terms with their ruling. He also stated that “science doesn’t lie.”

As a former intern for San Diego 10News, I have watched all the drama unfold from a unique perspective. I was present in the newsroom the day the son was officially pronounced dead. I called Zahau’s family (with no response) and communicated with police about the case. After watching the briefing and piecing together all the evidence I am aware of, I honestly believe the police are right. All evidence does point to suicide. The little boy’s death was simply an unfortunate accident. HOWEVER, I do not believe the police have adequately researched the motive behind her suicide. Did someone threaten her? Was her suicide provoked? The voicemail she received before ending her life was deleted; maybe there was more to the voicemail than we are being told. Only Rebecca Zahau can tell us exactly how this tragedy unfolded and why it did in such a bizarre manner. While many people are going to say that the police were paid off, I do not believe this insult to be true.

What do you think? Was it suicide or something more? Leave comments with your opinions!

All the above information was derived from previous 10News articles, my personal research, and statements made at the briefing Friday.

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