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.


Discovering Ocean Kayaking
July 28, 2011

Photo courtesy of Beach Shoot San Diego

Blessed with the opportunity to spend my summer in the beautiful city of San Diego, I have discovered a newfound passion – kayaking in the ocean.  I was hooked and determined to buy a kayak one day after only experiencing it twice.  Surprisingly, you do not have to be tremendously strong or well-educated on the subject to get the most out of kayaking.  You simply need an open mind and maybe some sunscreen to be guaranteed an unforgettable experience.

The beauty and spontaneity of the ocean create a unique environment for kayaking as opposed to a lake or river.  At the beginning, the kayaker must face the crashing waves, which was personally the most exciting aspect of the entire trip.  However, once the kayak has passed the initial waves, the water becomes significantly smoother, making it the perfect condition to simply observe the surrounding environment.  The ocean water offers the chance to catch a glimpse of many interesting creatures such as sea lions, dolphins, and elaborately colored fish.

Another plus of ocean kayaking is the amazing whole body workout.  Though you may think the hobby only works the arms and possibly the back, I found that my legs and abs were also sore the next day.  Kayaking is so exciting that it never feels like a strenuous work out, but in fact it has been the best workout I have had all summer.  If only I owned a kayak, I would do it every week!

Prices to kayak in La Jolla, the best place in San Diego for the sport, start at around 25.00.  The first time I went out on the water, I used San Diego Bike and Kayak Tours and a group of nineteen other people accompanied.  Bike and Kayak Tours sends a tour guide with the group who explains the history of the surrounding waters.  The second kayaking trip I endeavored was through Beach Shoot San Diego, a company that supplies their customers with a kayak and photographer for a semi-private day on the water.  Beach Shoot’s prices are hefty, starting at around 400, which does not even include the price of the photos.

Kayaking will be among my list of favorite things to do for many years to come.  I have made genuinely wonderful memories through the hobby and got a full body workout in the process.  For anyone who enjoys the outdoors, water activities, or the beach in general, I highly recommend trying a hand at this wildly entertaining sport.

My First Experience at Comic Con
July 25, 2011

Comic Con 2011

I have never been much of a comic book/video game fan.  My knowledge of science fiction is essentially compiled of Star Wars and the recent major Hollywood films such as X-Men.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to find myself walking alongside the geekiest of costumed nerds into the biggest comic book/science fiction convention of the year – Comic Con.  All that changed when I was offered a highly coveted, totally cost-free opportunity to enter into the San Diego Convention Center doors for a look into the world of magic and super powers.

Transformers Robot towers over crowd.

When I hopped onto the free Comic Con shuttle, my first surprise was that there were actually totally normal people on the bus.  A feeling of relief washed over me; I was not the only average person attending Comic Con 2011.  Perhaps there were several other people like me who were blindly walking into the convention with little previous knowledge of comics.

The shuttle arrived at the convention center, and I picked up my press pass.  Then the adventure began as I entered the Exhibit Hall.  Thousands of people filled the hall to view everything from the actual transformers robot to Playboy Playmates.  Overwhelmed, I wandered around viewing the booths and snapping pictures.  The more I absorbed it all, the more I realized I actually enjoyed much of what was being celebrated at the convention.  Maybe Comic Con was not just for nerds after all…

Jeffrey Weissman and I pose for a picture.

Jeffrey Weissman who played George McFly in Back to the Future2 & 3 was the first actor I encountered.  I have grown up adoring the movie, so I asked if I could snap a photo with him.  Only when I flashed my press pass did he happily agree.  He currently lives in Northern California and is continuing to pursue an acting career.

I naively attempted to attend a panel session with the Napoleon Dynamite cast and showed up twenty minutes before it started.  Around five hundred people were already anxiously in line, and the room filled up far before I ever got a chance to enter.  It became quickly obvious that the only way to attend almost any panel session would be to wait in line for well over an hour.  With no patience and an empty stomach I soon gave up.  However, as I was walking away I did catch a glimpse of Diedrich Bader before he entered the room.  He stopped to pose for a couple of pictures and seemed very friendly.

Elijah Wood talks to ecstatic fans while promoting his newest movie, Wilfred.

The highlight of my day was easily when I saw Elijah Wood up close and personal.  I have watched Lord of the Rings countless times and consider Wood an amazing actor.  While signing autographs, he saw someone he knew and the two of them began to make conversation.  It was exciting to watch him interact with a friend and show his true personality.  He really does have piercing blue eyes in person, by the way.

My afternoon at Comic Con 2011 turned out to be very insightful.  The following tips may help other newbies walk into Comic Con a little less blindly than I did.

1)      Review a map of the Convention Center before you arrive.  I spent too much time staring at the map and asking people where certain exhibits were located.  If I would have known my way around the building beforehand, I would have had more time to attend panels and hunt down celebrities.

2)      Bring water and snacks.  At many events similar to this one, security makes you throw away food and drink before entering the building.  However, there were no rules against carrying in food or beverage.  Prices for snacks at the convention were unsurprisingly inflated, and I really regretted not coming more prepared.

3)      Do not be afraid to go alone.  I bravely attended the event alone and had the freedom to do and see whatever I wanted on my own terms.  Though the experience would be fun shared with a friend, going alone has its advantages as well.

4)      Ride the free Comic Con shuttle.  Do not attempt to park downtown!  The free shuttle comes as far as Hotel Circle and was not crowded.  While other modes of public transportation are also helpful, they are not free like the shuttle was.

5)      If there is a panel or screening, show up EARLY.  Depending on the popularity, you may have to wait in line for hours.  Bring a book or game, or just enjoy the chaos around you.  “The key is to view the smaller panels.  They are actually really fun and the lines are not as long,” I overheard some Comic Con pros telling a rookie.  Seems like good advice to me!

San Diego Weather: July Fourth Weekend and the Days to Follow
July 3, 2011

Lifeguards called in extra help to prepare for the high volumes of people at the beach this weekend.

Along with fireworks and highly congested beaches, the holiday weekend was accompanied by above average temperatures in inland San Diego County.  Communities in East County saw triple digits on Saturday such as Alpine, which reached 100 degrees. Humidity and haze made the hot weather even more unpleasant.

The inland viewing area can expect these extreme temperatures to continue for the next few days before seeing some relief around Saturday.  Mountain and desert areas may experience a chance of thunderstorms beginning today and continuing throughout Wednesday.

Coastal areas are quite cooler, meaning packed out beaches this weekend.  As of 11 a.m. this morning, parking at Mission Beach was impossible.  Other beaches are seeing the same turnout as well.

While a trip to the beach can provide some relief from the heat, surfing conditions will be poor tomorrow.  Local beaches will see weak surf averaging between 1’ and 3’.  Light winds will also mean sailing conditions will only be mediocre.

Until the temperatures creep back down, remember to remain hydrated whenever you are spending time outdoors.  Heat exhaustion and dehydration can be easily avoided even in conditions such as these.

Extraordinary Desserts: A Must Visit
July 3, 2011

Dessert.  The favorite part of the meal for many people, yet also the course of the meal most often skipped.  However, a San Diego restaurant once featured on the Food Network will make you skip straight to the best part – sweets!  Extraordinary Desserts has two locations in San Diego, Union Street and Fifth Avenue.  If you are planning to be in Southern California, plan on making a special trip to this unforgettable destination.

Surprisingly, there is no actual menu for the desserts.  To order, the customer must view the desserts behind a glass case and tell the waiter which treat they have chosen.  Then the waiter retrieves the given dessert and takes it to the kitchen to be further decorated with freshly made glazes.

If you have any interest at all in teas, consider ordering a pot at Extraordinary Desserts.  You can choose from a wide range of flavors such as “Marco Polo” and “109 Blossoms.”  No matter if you prefer black, green, or herbal, they have a fresh, delightful flavor for all.

Don’t be intimidated by the restaurant’s modern yet elegant appearance.  The prices range from 3.95 for a small dessert to 9.95 for a dessert the size of a full meal.  The cakes, tarts, scones, pies, etc. are well worth every penny, seeing how a scone at Starbucks is the same price for a freshly made scone at Extraordinary Desserts.  The quality of all the food and drink is a true steal when you compare it to the fresh, elaborate desserts you will receive in return.

The elaborately decorated treats along with the fun atmosphere create a must-visit restaurant.  Be prepared to eat and drink your weight in fruity, fresh desserts that will leave you asking for more!

Noisy Neighbors in San Diego Spur Violence
June 27, 2011

Could noise pollution lead to crime?  For San Diego, the answer has been yes two weekends in a row.  In both cases, a noisy neighbor has provoked confrontation  ending in a trip to the hospital.

For Chula Vista resident Arnulfo Luis Flores, the sound of a lawn mower is a nuisance.  In fact, Flores found it so annoying he went to extreme measures to make sure neighbor Ulysses Rochin would no longer disturb the neighborhood by using his lawn mower.  Shortly after 8pm on June 17, Flores confronted Rochin about the noise.  When Rochin refused to stop using the mower, Flores stormed home and returned with a handgun.  Flores fired two shots at Rochin in short-range.  To Flores, violence was the best way to end the disturbance.  However, shortly after the incident, Flores realized his wrongdoing and ran from the police for two days before turning himself in.  Rochin was injured but said to be in stable condition.

One week later, a party in Pacific Beach, CA ended in a similar manner.  The party was getting a little too loud for a nearby neighbor who went to tell them to quiet down.  The complaining neighbor brought along a gun, which the partygoers quickly took away from him.  After they retrieved the gun, they stabbed the man in the upper body.  Though taken to a nearby trauma center, the victim is not believed to have life-threatening injuries.

Should neighbors confront those who are being too loud, or should they simply go to the police?  For residents in the San Diego area, it may be better to play it safe.  They never know when a noise disturbance can become dangerous.

San Diego County’s Finest Treasure
June 21, 2011

La Jolla, California definitely holds true to its name.  Meaning The Jewel in Spanish, La Jolla is one of San Diego’s finest treasures.  This little community north of the city of San Diego has something to offer for almost anyone.

Beaches: La Jolla has two main beaches.  What is known as The Shores is a sandy beach perfect for soaking up the sun or building sand castles.  For the more adventurous, The Cove has cliffs, tide pools, and caves.  Sea lions and seals frequent the cove area and are a tourist favorite.  Those who enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving will find that the La Jolla Cove is a dream come true.

Shopping: Fancy boutiques line the streets of La Jolla.  If you are planning on spending a day shopping, be prepared to see pricey apparel.  Designer names such as Lucky Brand, Armani Exchange, and Ann Taylor are the norm.

Dining: If the shopping is ritzy, the dining has to be as well.  La Jolla is known for its fine dining.  Many of the restaurants offer great views of the ocean along with premium meals.  A personal favorite is Kitima Extraordinary Thai because of its quaint, comfortable atmosphere and amazing “Tom Kha Kai,” a coconut milk soup.

Real Estate: Many people visit La Jolla just to see the beautiful houses.  Porsche, Maserati, and BMW are not a rare sight in the driveways.  If you have an extra million dollars, consider investing in one of the dream homes!