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Zahau family reveals new information, announces $100,000 reward

Posted at 7:28 AM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 20:16:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The family of Rebecca Zahau announced new information regarding the 2011 case and a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man found liable for her death.

Family attorney Keith Greer, joined by Zahau's sister Mary Zahau-Loehner at a Wednesday morning news conference in Rancho Bernardo, released a new expert review of Adam Shacknai’s polygraph exam and spoke on actions he and the family plan to take to ultimately solve the case.

"The family is not giving up at this point in time. They're going back to the citizens. The family has filed a grievance with the sheriff's department. That is still pending, and it has to be concluded before the family can seek recourse against the sheriff in civil court. We're also going to be petitioning the medical examiner to change the death certificate from suicide to homicide," Greer said.

Greer went on to allege corruption within the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and noted Adam Shacknai failed a polygraph exam in 2011.

Shacknai spoke to 10News on Wednesday about his name continuing to be attached to Zahau's death while he is a free man.

"It's mind-boggling and bewildering. People have approached me supporting me ... I've never, not only ever touched Rebecca, never done anything to any female that would be construed as violent aggressive," he said.

On July 13, 2011, authorities said Adam Shacknai called 911 to report the discovery of Rebecca Zahau’s nude body hanging from a balcony at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado. Investigators found her body on the ground with her hands and feet bound with red rope. The same red rope was discovered hanging over the balcony.

Shacknai was staying at the mansion that was owned then by his brother, pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai. At the time, Zahau was Jonah Shacknai’s girlfriend.

Two days before Zahau’s death, she had been babysitting her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son Max when he suffered serious injuries in a fall down a staircase at the home. The boy died from his injuries five days later.

-- Settlement reached in civil case; Shacknai speaks to 10News
-- Coronado mansion death case won't be reopened
-- Jury finds Adam Shacknai responsible in Zahau wrongful death case
-- PHOTOS: Zahau death investigation
-- TIMELINE: The Rebecca Zahau case

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Zahau’s death a suicide. Authorities have suggested she took her own life out of remorse and sorrow over the boy’s injuries.

The Zahau family rejected the suicide conclusion, and for many years, they have believed she was murdered by Adam Shacknai. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him in 2013.

In April 2018, jurors in a civil trial found Adam Shacknai liable for the 32-year-old’s death and ordered him to pay the Zahau family $5 million. The ruling was made despite the fact that Shacknai was never charged with a crime in the case.

Eight months later, the sheriff’s department announced that they would not reopen the Zahau death case following a review.

After a settlement in the civil case was reached in February 2019, Shacknai maintained his innocence in an interview with 10News.

“I’m glad it’s over, but it’s not the way I wanted it to end. I wanted to go through the process for an appeal,” he told 10News reporter Michael Chen.