Friday, September 2, 2011
The July death of a pharmaceutical magnate's girlfriend at his Coronado mansion has been ruled a suicide.
Forensic evidence shows Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend Rebecca Zahau bound her feet, placed rope and a shirt around her neck and then bound her wrists behind her back before hanging herself. Authorities say Zahau committed suicide after she received news that Shacknai's six-year-old son's condition had worsened from a fall at the mansion days earlier. They say she also painted a message in black on a door.
"I will be the first to admit that this was a unique and unusual case and I have personally investigated many suicides and homicides," said Deputy Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas. "We have to look past the unusual appearance of the death and focus on the facts and the evidence."
Sheriff's detectives say Shacknai's son Max ran down an upstairs hall, tripped, and fell over the staircase railing. No one saw the boy's fall. Speculation has swirled about the events leading up to Zahau's hanging - speculation that Sheriff Bill Gore hopes will now end.
"Science is our best witness in this case. Science is not biased and it does not lie," Gore said.
Zahau's family, however, does not believe she took her own life.