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Ten Year Old Zahau Death Still Mystifies

 April 26, 2021 at 11:37 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The public might've thought that the wrongful death conviction of Adam Shaq nigh three years ago would put an end to the mystery of what happened at the Spreckels mansion in 2011. But questions are still raging. As recently as last month. The family of Rebecca's a how one, the right to Sue the San Diego Sheriff's department for unreleased documents. In the case, the strange deaths of how found hanging nude from a balcony at the mansion and max Shaq NAI her boyfriend's six year old son found fatally injured at the house just two days before shocked and puzzled San Diego, and eventually the entire nation, a new book, meticulously documents, the investigation, background and theories surrounding the deaths, allowing readers to come to their own conclusions. Joining me a San Diego true crime writer, Caitlin Rother. Her new book is called death on ocean Boulevard, inside the car natto mansion case, and Caitlin, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 01:01 Thanks for having me back Speaker 1: 01:03 Now. The San Diego County Sheriff's department says it was a suicide. Rebecca Howe killed herself out of despair and guilt over the tragic accident that left six year old max brain dead. Can you remind us about some of the facts surrounding those two tragic events? Speaker 2: 01:22 Sure. Rebecca claims that she was in the bathroom downstairs when she heard a crash and the dog barking, she came out and she found max lying on the floor in the foyer, right near the front door, the bottom of the stairs, surrounded by broken glass of a chandelier that fell from the ceiling, a scooter, a soccer ball, and a barking dog. So two days later, um, he's in the ICU, his dad, Jonah Shaq, NAI, Rebecca's boyfriend and Max's mother Dina, Shaq NAI, or at the hospital. Jonah's brother Adam shack, my flies in from Memphis to try to be supportive, Adam and Rebecca go back to the sprinkles mansion. And the next morning Adam calls nine one one said he found Rebecca hanging naked bound, gagged her ankles, tied together. Her hands bound behind her back, uh, hanging from an exterior balcony in the rear courtyard of the mansion. Speaker 1: 02:25 And is the facts surrounding Rebecca's hanging. That still seem incredible to many people. She was of course naked, which itself is puzzling. What else was out about the scene? Speaker 2: 02:36 Well, women generally do not hang themselves publicly naked. In fact, when I did a Google search for naked suicides, I found one article called naked suicides. That basically said very little, almost nothing has been published or is known about naked suicides because I basically just don't happen. That is basically what got everybody going and this what made it so sensational, but more so she had this t-shirt in her mouth. Her hands were behind her back and just people just cannot visualize physically, logistically. How could she have done this to herself Speaker 1: 03:13 And tell us about the writing on the door because that's mysterious too. Speaker 2: 03:18 Yes. There was a message written in black paint in block letters that said she saved him. Can you save her? Now? What I found curious about that is there's no punctuation. There's no question Mark. There's no comma. And it's written in what some people have described as kind of an angry manner. I mean, and it's a kind of a taunting tone and it's written in the third person at the civil trial, the expert for the Zoho family said that it looked more like Adam Shaq, nice handwriting. Then it did look like Rebecca's the Sheriff's department's expert said, well, we can't examine our compare because we don't have a comparable sample. It was done with a paint brush and not with a pen and paper. Speaker 1: 04:03 You brought us several years forward in time because Adam Shaq Nye was, was sued by the [inaudible] family for wrongful death. After the Sheriff's investigation ruled Rebecca's death, a suicide, the jury heard the case. The jury agreed that Adam was responsible for this wrongful death. We're so used to forensic evidence, the CSI effect, being able to solve murder mysteries these days, but it really didn't help much in this case. Did it? Speaker 2: 04:32 Well, what, that's one of the interesting things about this case, um, you know, I've sat through a lot of trials and I've learned a lot about DNA and fingerprinting, but this was an interesting case because Adam's DNA was not found anywhere in the bedroom where the hanging rope was anchored to the leg of a bed, nor was it found on the knife that he said he used to cut her down. So, you know, you would think that if he touched these items, there would be some sort of DNA left, but there wasn't any trace of his DNA only Rebecca's DNA. So that's why the Sheriff's department says this was a suicide that they only found Rebecca's fingerprints and DNA on all of these different items, including the ones that we know Adam touched. Speaker 1: 05:19 Yeah. There's quite a bit of insight information included in death on ocean Boulevard, your new book, you got hold of detectives interviewed transcripts, didn't you? Speaker 2: 05:28 Yes, I did. Speaker 1: 05:30 And how did you do that? Speaker 2: 05:34 I have my sources. I have multiple sources. And you know, I've been in this town doing this job for a long time, both at the union Tribune. And then this is my 14th book. So I actually had people who brought me things called me and handed me things. And I was scared to tell you the truth. Initially, this case had, had not gone to court yet. The lawsuit at initially had not even been, there were all these theories about Rebecca being murdered. And so I thought, well, if I don't get sued, I could get killed right. Doing this book. So I actually kind of fought it at first. I kind of tried not to do the book, but then I couldn't help myself. And I became obsessed with it. Honestly, this mystery is one of the most intriguing that I've ever written about Speaker 1: 06:20 After such a deep dive into this mystery, what are the top unanswered questions you're left with? Speaker 2: 06:27 Well, I have a number of questions, um, probably too many to list, and I'm not sure that some of these questions will ever be answered, but number one, you know, we don't know for sure how max fell from that second story balcony because nobody saw it. The next question is Jonah's voicemail, which he claims he called Rebecca. He was crying and he basically says that he just told her what the doctor had told him and Dina, which was that the best case scenario was that max would never walk or talk again. And he claims he wasn't angry. He wasn't blaming anyone. He was just truly upset these house say, well, we can't prove that we don't know. We there's no evidence other than a phone record there's we haven't ever heard that message. The next thing is, if Rebecca did commit suicide, why did she do it that way? Speaker 2: 07:21 And there's one theory that she may have been angry at Jonah. And why would she do it that way? Was there something about something that happened in their private lives that they haven't talked about? I did ask Jonah about that. He said, no, we didn't do anything like or anything like that. But Adam is convinced that it was Shamari, which is a self tying mix of sexual and artistic. Then the last thing is, you know, I think there are everybody in this, in this case has an agenda and a narrative that they're trying to control and everybody is holding information back or spinning it in a certain way to further their own agenda and their own, their own narrative of what actually happened. So that was my goal really was I don't have an agenda. I just want to find the truth. Speaker 1: 08:13 Well, it is, as I say, a meticulously researched book and I want to thank you, Katelyn. I've been speaking with Caitlin Rother. Her new book is called a death on ocean Boulevard inside the car Nado mansion case. Caitlin. Thanks. Thank you, author. Caitlin Rother will hold a virtual book launch for death on ocean Boulevard tomorrow night, starting at seven it's a zoom event through the San Diego virtual branch library. Speaker 3: 08:47 [inaudible].

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A new book “Death on Ocean Boulevard: Inside the Coronado Mansion Case” examines the event, the investigation and the lingering questions. Author, San Diego crime writer Caitlin Rother outlines the facts of the case.
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