Family of Rebecca Zahau files court order against San Diego County Sheriff's Department

Court order seeks evidence, information

SAN DIEGO - Attorneys for the family of Rebecca Zahau, who mysteriously died at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado nearly two years ago, announced Wednesday plans to keep her death investigation alive.

At a news conference, Zahau family attorneys Marty Rudoy and David Fleck, announced that they have filed a court order against the San Diego County Sheriff's Department for evidence and information they believe deputies left out during the investigation.

The evidence includes interviews, evidence from the scene of Zahau's July 13, 2011 death and a mysterious 8-second gap from a 911 call.

"There's an 8-second gap in the copy we have, it just goes dead for 8 seconds," said Rudoy. "And I spoke with someone who heard the original and there is no 8-second gap in the original."

Other evidence still missing, according to Rudoy, are items from the Medical Examiner's Office, including a complete videotape and notes from Zahau's autopsy.

The deaths of 6-year-old Max Shaknai and his father's then-girlfriend, Zahau, made headlines in 2011. Shaknai's death was ruled an accident and Zahau's a suicide.

But since the deaths Zahau's family has been adamant that she was murdered.

"Our experts have looked at it and there's really no evidence of suicide but there is compelling evidence of a struggle. And our expert believes there was someone else's hand in her death," said Rudoy, the Zahau family lawyer.

The Sheriff's Department rejected the family's pleas to re-open the investigation, saying there was no evidence of a homicide. The family disagrees.

"An overturned chair in the room from which the rope was suspended, of course Rebecca's hands being tied behind her back and her legs bound," said Rudoy. "Some duct tape on her body, there's an injury to her hand.

The family's attorneys told 10News, that they do not think it was a corrupt investigation. Rather, they believe mistakes were made and officials were too quick to think it was a suicide. 

Zahau's sister, Snowem, said they hope to re-open both her sister's case and Max's. Snowem called the concept of it being considered a suicide ridiculous. 

According to a complaint, the message, "She saved him can you save her" was painted on the door, and two paint brushes were at the scene.  Rudoy said it would not make sense for Zahau to write a suicide in the third person. He also said, she was an artist and would have likely make the message look neat, unlike the way it was painted. 

Rudoy and Fleck filed the complaint at the Hall of Justice. They have been working on the case for the past year and a half for free because they said they are so confident Zahau was murdered.

The Zahau family has set up a fundraiser to cover legal fees. Click to link to the site:

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