Friday, September 2, 2011
Authorities are expected to announce today that a woman found dead inside her boyfriend's historic Coronado mansion committed suicide.
But the family of Rebecca Zahau does not believe the 32-year-old woman took her own life last July.
Zahau was found hanging from a balcony at Spreckels Mansion on the morning of July 13. She was nude, and both her hands and feet had been bound, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Her sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner, told reporters Thursday night that sheriff's detectives briefed the family on their findings earlier this week by and that the death will be ruled a suicide.
"We, her family and friends, do not believe it's a suicide,'' Zahau- Loehner wrote in an email statement quoted by The San Diego Union-Tribune. "There are still unanswered questions.''
To represent its interests in the case, the family has retained Seattle attorney Anne Brenmer, a high-profile lawyer who represented the family of Amanda Knox, the young American woman convicted in 2009 of murdering her roommate in Italy.
Zahau's death came only days after the death of the son of her boyfriend, pharmaceutical magnate and Spreckles Mansion owner Jonah Shacknai. Six-year-old Max Shacknai suffered fatal injuries in a fall down a staircase in the 103-year-old mansion at a time when he was being looked after by Zahau.
Shacknai, 54, is the founder of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and makes anti-aging products. He has owned Spreckels Mansion since 2007.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore and a panel representing the sheriff's homicide detail and crime lab, the county medical examiner's office and the Coronado Police Department are scheduled to announce the results of their investigation into Zahau's death later this morning at sheriff's department headquarters.