Re-Open Max Shacknai & Rebecca Zahau mURDERS
Posted in the Coronado Forum
#1 Aug 8, 2012
It has been one year since Max Shacknai, the six year old son of multi-millionaire, Jonah Shacknai was found dead at the base of the stairs of his father's Coronado mansion, and several days later the pharmaceutical executive's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was discovered naked and hanging from a balcony.
Jonah's ex-wife, Dina, mother of Max, has broken her silence and turned over medical evidence to the Coronado Police Department claiming her son was murdered and pointing the finger of blame at Rebecca an allegation her sister, Mary Zahau, vehemently denies, telling RadarOnline.com exclusively that "the thought that Rebecca would cause Max harm is preposterous."
PHOTOS: Rebecca Zahau And Her Sister Snowem Horwath
"We believe the homicide conclusions are unsupported. From our own personal observations of Rebecca with Max we saw nothing but a close, loving relationship between the two," Mary Zahau tells RadarOnline.com exclusively.
"Rebecca loved Max as if he was her own son. While our family shares the grief over Max's death, the thought that Rebecca would cause Max harm is preposterous. The California Attorney General is presently reviewing the file at our request. We urge the public and the media to wait for facts and to not be distracted by shiny press releases sent by public relations firms touting paid experts' speculation. We also urge those who caused Rebecca harm to turn themselves in to law enforcement. Only then can both families begin the healing process."
PHOTOS: Celebrities Who Died In Bizarre Circumstances
As previously reported, Jonah Shacknai was dating Rebecca Zahau, who was found nude and hanging from a balcony at the Medicis CEO's mansion in Coronado, a wealthy suburb of San Diego, just two days after young Max Shacknai was found unconscious at his father's house. Max later died from his injuries. The San Diego Medical Examiner determined that Max's death was accidental, and the San Diego Sheriff's Department concluded that Rebecca's death was a suicide, something her family vehemently disputes.
Dina Shacknai hired two medical experts to review her son's autopsy results and they concluded her son was allegedly assaulted and forced over the balcony inside her ex-husband's mansion. "I can't imagine anyone in the world wanting to harm Maxie," Shacknai told FoxNews.com "He was the most sweet, loving and gentle boy."
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Rebecca Zahau was taking care of Max on July 11, 2011, at her boyfriend's house, who wasn't home at the time. Rebecca's 13-year-old sister was the only other person in the house at the time of Max's accident. Max's body was found in the entry way of the Spreckles Mansion, which Jonah has since sold, with broken pieces of a chandelier next to him.
Dr. Judy Melinek, one of the forensic experts hired by Dina, told FoxNews.com , "I do not disagree with the coroner's determination that the cause of death was due to blunt force trauma. What I did disagree with was the manner of death, which I believe was a homicide."
#2 Aug 8, 2012
In my Humble opinion: I believe Jonah Shacknai's Brother killed them both! Or at least the brother killed Rebecca.Jonah's brother was living or staying int eh guest ouse at the time. Brother is Not married and lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Maybe the brother was molesting the child and Rebecca was going to tell Jonah, let had to kill her and the boy to cover up his crime. No dna was ever tested from under Max's finger nails. Both were murdered by someone close to the family. Not long after the murders the brother went back to Memphis. I know in my heart of hearts the brother killed them both!
#3 Aug 8, 2012
Not too mention, brother in Memphis did away with Both Heirs to Jonah's Estate! Leaves him and his family next to inherit Jonah's estate!
#4 Aug 8, 2012
On July 12, the day before her death, Zahua went to the airport to drop off her 13-year old sister for her flight back to Missouri, and then picked up Shacknai's brother Adam Shacknai, who had just arrived on a flight from Memphis. Zahau and Adam Shacknai ate dinner with Jonah Shacknai and his friend Howard that evening, and then returned to the mansion. Adam Shacknai stayed at the mansion that night. There were reports of loud music coming from the mansion that evening. Jonah Shacknai was supposedly keeping a vigil at Max's bedside with Max's mother Dina Romano; he would leave the hospital to recuperate at a nearby Ronald McDonald House. Adam Shacknai stated that he found Zahau nude, hanging from a balcony, with her wrists and ankles bound, at roughly 6:45 AM on the morning of July 13. He called 911 at 6:48 AM, and then sent a text message to his brother to inform him of the news. He cut the body down prior to police's arrival.
Zahau was gagged with a blue, long sleeve T-shirt wrapped around her head with the sleeves double knotted and stuffed into her mouth. There was also what appeared to be tape residue on her legs. Medics attempted to revive her, but pronounced her dead at the scene. The police initiated forensic and toxicology testing on her body as part of an autopsy to determine the cause of death. She was buried at St. Joseph's Memorial Park in St. Joseph, Missouri on July 23. Speculations of foul play began early on in the case; however, investigators were unable to find any other DNA at the scene besides Zahau's. On September 2, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department formally announced their finding that Zahau committed suicide.
As part of their investigation, police served Verizon and AT&T with search warrants to obtain cell phone billing records, and took Zahau's Samsung Focus cell phone as evidence. According to Zahau's AT&T cell phone billing records, from roughly 8 p.m. until 10 p.m., Zahau talked and texted with her older sister Mary Zahau-Loehner, who confirmed that Xena had arrived home safely. At 10:48 p.m., Zahau received a text from Nina Romano, the twin sister of Shacknai's ex-wife Dina Romano. Nina Romano, also a Coronado resident, stated that she wanted to stop by the mansion and speak with Zahau about Max's accident. Zahau did not reply to that message. Police said she checked her voice-mail a few hours later, at 12:50 a.m. on July 13, and listened to a message. Billing records do not show who left that message. Police stated it was a message regarding the worsening of Max's condition, but declined to confirm at that time who left the message. Mary Zahau-Loehner stated that police told her it was from Jonah Shacknai. The message was deleted, meaning that police and Zahau's family never heard the contents of the message.
#5 Aug 8, 2012
Because of evidence management concerns, San Diego County Sheriff's Department investigators initially did not attempt to power up the phone or operate it, fearing that they might over write evidence contained in its memory. Instead, they tried to determine whether forensic software was available which would allow them to examine that model of phone. On August 15, unable to identify any such technology, a detective turned on the phone and conducted a manual search of it, finding that the voice-mail message was not stored on the phone. They did not request that AT&T try to retrieve the deleted message from its servers. Later, on September 21, a homicide investigator with the department announced that they would be searching it again, using what they described as "new technology" to copy the phone's data for further investigation. Because Zahau's cell phone was a newer model that investigators were not familiar with, they had previously been unsure what software they could use to accomplish this task. In early October, investigators completed their second examination of the cell phone. They stated that they did not uncover any additional information and would soon return the phone to Zahau's family.
Other evidence considered
Zahau's autopsy results would reveal four instances of head trauma. Investigators and outside commentators expressed various theories regarding the head injuries. San Diego Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas stated that "because there was evidence that she went over the balcony in a non-vertical position, she may have struck her head on the balcony on the way down." Werner Spitz, an expert witness who testified during the trial of Casey Anthony, said it was a possibility, stating, "When the body first dropped, she doesn't necessarily jump to her death, so she would drop directly downward and she could easily hit against the side of the structure from which she is hanging." However, he noted that the case was not "cut-and-dried" and that to draw stronger conclusions he would have preferred to see what the body looked like before the wrist bindings were removed. Forensic consultant and doctor of criminal psychology Maurice Godwin expressed doubt, stating, "The chances of bumping into the railing, going over the balcony and hitting your head four times is highly unlikely."
Family members expressed suspicions that Zahau's hands and feet were bound. In an interview about a week after the incident, San Diego county sheriff Roy Frank stated, "There are documentations of incidents throughout the country where people have secured their feet and hands as well to commit suicide," to prevent themselves from changing their minds. Police re-enacted the scenario in an effort to determine whether it would have been possible for Zahau to bind herself in that fashion, and showed a video demonstration in which a woman wrapped a rope around her hands several times in front of her, slipped one hand out of the binding, then placed her hands behind her back, rebound them, and tightened the bindings with the aid of a string similar to the one which police found in Zahau's hands.
A black message had been painted on the door of the room leading to the balcony below police found Zahau's body; according to Zahau's ex-husband Nalepa, it read "She saved him, can he save her." but officials declined to confirm this. In media comments, Sheriff Gore only stated that it was "not a clear suicide note"; however, investigators took it as further evidence of suicide. Zahau liked to paint as a hobby and had signed her paintings in the past; her siblings contended that the message did not match her handwriting. Nalepa also stated the note "did not appear to be something [Zahau] would have written."
#6 Aug 8, 2012
Public and media
The deaths drew intense public and media scrutiny. On July 14, Medicis had its sharpest one-day decline in stock price since February. News of the death and investigation received international coverage in various countries including Brazil, New Zealand, Finland, Spain, and the United Kingdom throughout July and August. In early September, various Forbes writers, including true crime writer Cathy Scott and lawyer Victoria Pynchon, expressed doubts about the investigators' conclusions; Pynchon described the ruling as an "embarrassing public blunder". The Daily Beast published a column by trial lawyer Roy Black, in which he criticized "half-baked theories" about Zahau's death, in particular stating of the lack of DNA evidence: "How could anyone do all this without leaving behind a scintilla of microscopic evidence? They would have to have been wearing a full rubber suit or some type of space suit and levitated over the scene." He called on the media and public to "stop calling it murder." On September 19, it was reported that local Coronado author Kathleen McKenna would be writing a book on the case; McKenna expressed doubts that Zahau's death was a suicide.
People close to Zahau expressed doubt that she would have committed suicide. Zahau's elder sister said in an interview that "I still believe my sister didn't take her life", and in a written statement on behalf of the family wrote that "Rebecca valued her life and lived her life to its fullest. Rebecca loved God, her family and life." Her younger sister commented more strongly by e-mail, "Becky did not commit suicide. My sister was murdered." Her former trainer also stated that "She was always happy [and] always smiling when she came in. I didn't see a problem or anything like that." Family members disputed police characterizations of Zahau as depressed, describing her instead that as a happy person. Furthermore, they state that Zahau believed as a Christian that suicide was wrong. After the suicide ruling, Neil Nalepa was quoted as stating "I would not believe Rebecca would commit suicide. Its out of character." However, Sheriff Bill Gore, who investigated the death, stated of the family's reluctance to accept the suicide ruling, "We laid out the case extensively to them in Missouri to answer their questions, and its unfortunate she can't accept the results." On September 7, the family launched a website JusticeForRebecca.org seeking donations to fund their own investigation into Zahau's death. The site states: "It was obvious that the Sheriffs Department had worked too hard to paint this picture of suicide and they were not about to let the Zahaus ruin it." In late September, they continued to demand that the case be re-opened. In early November 2011 the web site no longer accepted donations and had changed focus to be solely a source of any new information about the case.
On September 20, Jonah Shacknai wrote a letter to California Attorney General Kamala Harris requesting a state review of the investigation. Shacknai himself did not doubt the findings of investigations, but stated that he hoped a review would bring "confidence, comfort, and resolution" to others close to Zahau. However, chief assistant attorney general Dana Gillette replied the following day, stating that "we must decline your invitation to review this investigation at this time" On September 30, family members appeared on NBC Today and called not just for a review but a complete independent investigation by the state Attorney General's office.
#7 Aug 8, 2012
Lawyers and public relations personnel
Zahau's family hired attorney Anne Bremner of Seattle to represent them. Bremner expressed derision at the medical examiner's conclusions, stating ""This would be the first case in the history of the world that a woman killed herself like this ... It's ridiculous on the face of it." Dan K. Webb of Winston & Strawn LLP, a lawyer for Shacknai, alleges that other statements of Bremner's imply that Shacknai used his wealth and profile to improperly influence the probe into Zahau's death. He sent a cease and desist letter to Bremner warning her that certain statements of hers constituted defamation, as well as being "highly insensitive on a human level" and contributing to "the harsh and unkind glare of a national media frenzy." However, Jim Edwards of CBS BNET suggested it was unlikely that Shacknai would actually sue, as it would simply bring more publicity to the case; he expected that the situation effectively "leaves the Zahau family to continue their claims unchallenged."
Shacknai also hired public relations firm Sitrick and Company to represent him the week after Zahau's death. In response to media inquiries, a Sitrick and Company employee stated that Shacknai had hired the firm to handle his large volume of incoming calls in the days after the deaths, to give him time to grieve and make arrangements for the funerals. Sitrick and Company executives later held discussions with journalists whom they believe had made errors in their reporting on the case. Forbes writer Victoria Pynchon expressed consternation that Sitrick and Company employees had viewed her LinkedIn profile.
#8 Aug 8, 2012
Still think the Adam Shacknai killed Rebecca! Loud Music would cover-up any sounds from a murder! Experts claim, no way anyone, especially a woman could tie the rope in nauctial style rope knots as were done on her body. Someone having marine and boating experience would know how to tie this type of knots. Woman would Never hang herself in the nude! Wondering if Adan Shacknai has taken polygraph test? Adam left as soon as possible for Memphis after the questionings from police dept. Re-interview the brother Adam!!!!!!!!!!
#9 Aug 8, 2012
It was quickly established that Max had massive trauma to the brain, and he was transferred to Rady Childrens Hospital in San Diego and placed in a medically induced coma. Rebecca returned to the hospital the next day to see Max again while Dina was home sleeping after an all-night vigil. Later that day, Rebecca made several airport runs, fetching Dinas sister, putting Xena on a plane home, and picking up Shacknais brother, Adam, a tugboat captain in Memphis, whod flown in when he learned of Maxs accident. At dinner that evening with Adam and Jonah, Zahau was extremely quiet; she tried to explain what happened, but said little else.
Rebecca Zahau and Jonah Shacknai.(Courtesy of the Shacknai family)
Zahau dropped Jonah back at the hospital a little before 8 p.m., and she and Adam returned to the mansion. It had been a long and stressful day and they were both exhausted, so they said their goodnights and Zahau retired to the main house. Adam, who had visited several times before, always bunked in the same room in the guesthouse, off the courtyard.
The next morning, at approximately 6:30, Adam emerged from the guesthouse and saw Zahau hanging by the neck from a red towline rope slung over a second-floor balcony. According to the sheriffs report of the incident, she was naked except for a turquoise T-shirt wrapped around her neck. Her hands were tied behind her back, and her ankles were bound separately. The official investigative narrative from the sheriffs department describes his reaction. He ran into the main house to get a knife, pulled a nearby wooden table to the decedents body, stood on top, cut the rope and laid the decedents naked body on the grass. He removed a blue cloth from her mouth in an effort to perform CPR and at 06:48 hours placed a 9-1-1 call to request assistance. In five minutes the Coronado Fire Department arrived and confirmed Zahaus death.Due to the unusual circumstances, San Diego Sheriff Homicide detectives were contacted and initiated the investigation. The Coronado police have little experience with questionable deaths.
News helicopters were soon flying over the scene. A neighbor two doors down with a taller house and a view of the courtyard from his roof deck was inviting neighbors up to look at and photograph Zahaus body, lying uncovered on the grass. It wasnt long before the grainy pictures of the scene surfaced on the Internet. Recreational criminologists analyzed every detail, from the position of her body to the color of the rope bindings. Was the bent leg significant? Perhaps she had thrown herself over the balcony and broken her hip in the fall. Sheriff Gore advised the media that due to the bizarre circumstances of this incident, time would be needed to determine whether Zahaus demise was a criminal matter or a death investigation. Translation: was it homicide or suicide?
Friends aware of how much dislocation Zahau had survived in her life found it hard to believe she would have committed suicide, that she couldnt weather the situation. Accidents happen to children. There was no malice. She loved him, too.
Here you had a girl who came from Burma; she had to start over when she came, and by sheer intelligence and an amazing work ethic, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made her own way, says William K. Christian, an ophthalmologist who worked closely with her at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center in Scottsdale from 2008 to late 2010.
Rebecca Hniangsinmawii (her name means springtime beauty) was born on March 15, 1979, in the hills of northwest Burma. According to the Chinland Guardian website, she was the second-eldest daughter among six siblings of Pu Khua Hnin Thank and Pi Zung Tin Par from the Phunte village of Falam Township in Chin State, also known as Chinland. Its an area of many tribes, including the Zahaus. In a land of 113 languages and scores of dialects, the Zahaus had their own.
#10 Aug 8, 2012
Shacknais brother, Adam, a tugboat captain in Memphis, whod flown in when he learned of Maxs accident. Now we know, tugboat captain, that knows how to tie nauctical boat rope perfectly! By all means cut Rebecca down, that way, you have a reason for your finger-prints and dna on the rope. makes sense too me! Adam Murder Rebecca!
#11 Nov 29, 2012
Evidence appears to strongly suggest that Dina Shacknai and her twin sister Nina Romano probably murdered Rebecca Zahau.
#12 Mar 20, 2013
Don't know where you get the idea that the girlfriend Rebecca would
ever inherit any of Jonah's estate. She was not legally married to him, not even engaged yet. Rebecca was also seriously considering
moving out of the house, and away from Jonah, to take time out from their relationship. She also was having issues with his children from previous marriages. True, he was planning on proposing, but there was no time frame. If she left, there would be no way a man like Jonah would ever consider her in his will. Powerful, wealthy, and quite intelligent and driven...
#13 Mar 20, 2013
Adam Shacknai did take a polygraph test. It was ruled inconclusive by the examiner. The examiner recommended a second polygraph test, and the police dept. declined his request...
#14 Apr 26, 2014
Has any new evidence came out about Max and exactly how he died? Did the state reopen the case on his death?
#15 Mar 13, 2016
His brother wasn't even staying there when Max fell!!
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