NewsLocal News


San Diego County Sheriff will not reopen case in Coronado mansion death of Rebecca Zahau

PHOTOS: Rebecca Zahau death investigation
Posted at 12:29 PM, Dec 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-08 14:05:07-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Friday a new review of the death of Rebecca Zahau, whose body was found hanging at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado in 2011, found no evidence she "died at the hands of another," and the department will not reopen the case.

The review, conducted this year, involved officials from the Sheriff's Major Crimes Division, Sheriff's Homicide Detail, Sheriff's Crime Lab, County Medical Examiner's Office and Coronado Police Department who were not part of the original investigation. The team looked at the case with "fresh eyes", Gore said.

Zahau, 32, was the girlfriend of the mansion’s owner, Arizona pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai. Two days before her death, Zahau had been babysitting Shacknai’s 6-year-old son Max when he was seriously injured in a fall down the home’s staircase. Max died from his injuries five days later.

WATCH LIVE: Sheriff's news conference at 1 p.m.

Jonah Shacknai’s brother, a guest at the mansion, called 911 the morning of July 13, 2011, to report the discovery of Zahau’s nude body hanging from a balcony. Investigators found her body on the ground, her hands and feet bound with red rope. The same red rope was discovered hanging over the balcony.

Zahau family attorney Keith Greer alleged Adam Shacknai delivered four blows to the head of Zahau, rendering her partially or fully unconscious. Greer also claimed that the defendant sexually assaulted Zahau, tied her hands and feet, put a noose around her neck and threw her body off the second-story balcony.

Adam Shacknai released a statement Friday following the announcement.

"I was in no way involved with Rebecca's death, which was part of a tragic sequence of events, that also involved the loss of my 6-year-old nephew Max. I will be pleased to assist the investigation in any way requested, as I have all along," Shacknai said.

The Sheriff’s Department held a news conference about two months after Zahau’s death to announce it was a suicide.

Zahau’s family insisted she was the victim of a homicide, later filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Max’s mother Dina Shacknai, Dina’s twin sister Nina Romano, and Adam Shacknai.

Although the suit against Dina Shacknai and Romano was dropped four years later, Adam Shacknai was the focus of a civil trial. He denied the accusations against him, and his older brother testified that it was “inconceivable” that he had anything to do with Zahau’s death.

In April 2018, a jury found Adam Shacknai responsible for Zahau’s death and awarded Zahau’s family $5 million.