The family of Rebecca Zahau, also known as Rebecca Nalepa, is moving forward with a civil suit regarding her death in 2011.
Zahau, who was born in Myanmar (then Burma), had been dating Medicis Pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai; the pair lived together with his son, Max Shacknai. On July 11, 2011, Max Shacknai was found critically injured after allegedly falling over a balcony railing in his father’s Coronado, California mansion. He was found by Zahau, who told authorities she had heard a crash and found the six-year-old lying on the floor with chandelier glass shards surrounding his unresponsive body. He was rushed to the hospital, where he would succumb to his mortal wounds four days later.
Just two days later at 6:48 a.m. on July 13, 2011, Adam Shacknai, Jonah Shacknai’s brother, placed a call to 911, telling dispatch that he had discovered Zahau’s naked body hanging by a rope around her neck from the second-story balcony above the courtyard. According to ABC, she was found with her hands tied behind her back and feet bound together with red rope, although conflicting sources state they found duct tape residue on her legs. She had been gagged with a blue, long-sleeve shirt that had been wrapped around her head and neck, the sleeves double-knotted and forced into her mouth.
“Adam ran into the main house to get a knife, pulled a nearby wooden table to the decedent’s body, stood on top, cut the rope and laid the decedent’s naked body on the grass,” the official report detailed. “He removed a blue cloth which had been in her mouth in an effort to perform CPR and at 0648 hours, placed a 9-1-1 call to request assistance.”
Her autopsy revealed that she had four unexplained bruises on the top of her head, which renowned forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht says indicates blunt force trauma.
“She has subgaleal hemorrhages; those are hemorrhages on the undersurface of the scalp. I see no reason why she should have those.” Dr. Wecht said. “You get those when your head strikes something or is struck by something.”
Perhaps the most perplexing piece of evidence is the bedroom door, which featured the eerie words “She saved him. Can you save her?” Attorney Keith Greer, who is representing the Zahau family, believes all of this points to murder; however, her death was ruled as a suicide.
“The note was written by the person who killed Rebecca,” said Greer, who noted that investigators never did a handwriting analysis on the message.
Zahau’s family has been fighting for years to uncover the truth surrounding her death; now, their hope lies in a civil suit.
“There’s not a lot of money at the end of the rainbow in this case,” said Greer. “The family’s goal is to expose the murderer, let the world know their sister daughter is not the kind of person who would do this, hoping that the authorities will prosecute the case.”
There will be no criminal case, as the San Diego Sheriff’s Department stands firm on their ruling that Zahau killed herself — which Greer believes Shacknai had a hand in.
“I think they were having heavy pressure from Jonah Shacknai,” Greer asserted. “Would she humiliate her family and embarrass her family if that’s the way she was going to kill herself? No way. No way.”
Greer also said that Zahau’s family refused to settle out of court, even though it would have netted them millions of dollars; for them, it’s about finding out the truth behind what happened to their beloved family member.
“It doesn’t add up,” said Zahua’s sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner. “Nothing adds up.”
The family is aiming to present their case in a trial tentatively set for February.
Featured Image via FaceBook / Justice For Rebecca Zahau