More details emerged Tuesday related to the claim by RadarOnline.com that talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw wants to exhume the body of a woman who died suspiciously at a Coronado mansion in July.
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Entertainment website RadarOnline.com reported on Monday that McGraw said he wants to have Rebecca Zahau's body exhumed and re-examined for possible evidence of foul play.
It has been almost four months since Zahau died at the Spreckels mansion in Coronado. The San Diego County Medical Examiner determined Zahau took her own life but many refuse to believe that Zahau, who was found hanging naked from a balcony with her ankles tied together and hands bound behind her back, killed herself.
Radar Online reported McGraw wants Zahau's body re-examined for evidence that she was killed and will pay to have her body exhumed from her grave in Missouri.
On Tuesday, Zahau's sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner, said the family plans to have Rebecca's body exhumed from her grave in Missouri and re-examined by world-renowned pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht.
Wecht has performed autopsies on Anna Nicole Smith and her son, Daniel. He also investigated the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, who died when her car -- driven by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, plunged into a lake on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass., in 1969.
Zahau-Loehner issued the following statement to 10News on Tuesday, claiming that the exhumation will be paid for by donations:
This is my official response please don't edit the info.I want to thank for all the support and donation we have received. Due to the generosity of the public, we will be able to proceed with exhumation of Rebecca to find the truth of her death. Dr. Wecht has been kind and generous to help us with an independent autopsy.We would appreciate further donations and support in anyway. The venture of Justice for Rebecca is going to be long and challenging. This is only the beginning of that journey and it is possible due to the tremendous support and generosity of the public, experts, news media, and our attorney Anne Bremner.Donation is accepted at www.RebeccaZahauFund.comMary Zahau-Loehner.
10News' calls to Zahau family attorney Anne Bremner were not returned.
10News obtained a statement from a spokesperson for the Dr. Phil Show on Tuesday that neither confirmed nor denied Dr. Phil's involvement in an exhumation with the Zahau family:
"We endorse the familys effort to search for closure to this terrible tragedy and will stand with them going forward as they navigate through their grieving process." -Spokesperson for the DR. PHIL show
Zahau-Loehner confirmed that the results of the exhumation and second autopsy would be announced on the Dr. Phil show, but the exact date has not yet been determined.
According to various media reports, show producers promised a donation to the Zahau family's fund.
"Well, it's definitely not too late for things like DNA and toxicology," said former San Diego police detective Rick Carlson.
Carlson said a forensic pathologist can also look for fingernail scrapings and skeletal damage not found during the first autopsy.
Exhuming a body for more testing has proven to be successful. When Illinois police officer Drew Peterson's fourth wife Stacy vanished, investigators exhumed the body of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Savio's death had been ruled an accidental drowning, but a second independent autopsy concluded she had been killed.
Carlson said it may be what the family needs to feel it did all it could for Zahau.
"It's at least maybe the satisfaction of the family that they're looking into it themselves and having some participation in the final determination," said Carlson.
10News contacted the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to find out their thoughts on Dr. Phil's possible involvement, but a spokesperson said the department had no comment.
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