Is mysterious mansion death a suicide or homicide?
Dr. Mark Kalish has been a forensic psychiatrist for more than 30 years and says naked suicides among women are extremely rare. He adds that the way in which Zahau's body was found leads him to believe that her death was likely a staged suicide.
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Investigators remain tight-lipped about a mysterious death at a Coronado mansion.
The bizarre and violent death of 32-year-old Zahau continues to baffle both investigators and mental health experts, after she was found nude, bound and hanging from a balcony at the Spreckles Mansion in Coronado the morning of Wednesday, July 13. So far it hasn't been determined whether Zahau's death was a homicide or a suicide.
Dr. Mark Kalish has been a forensic psychiatrist for more than 30 years and says naked suicides among women are extremely rare. He adds that the way in which Zahau's body was found - both bound and hanging - leads him to believe that her death was likely a staged suicide.
"This case, hanging and a woman, is very, very unusual," said Dr. Kalish. "Typically men commit suicide in a violent way, using guns, hanging, knives, things like that, whereas women tend to be more passive in their suicide attempts. They prefer overdosing on pills and drowning, things like that."
The sheriff's department has yet to rule the case a suicide or homicide and has sealed the autopsy results.
Dr. Kalish says the method and circumstances surrounding a naked suicide are typically meant to send a message. There can be shock value, meant to traumatize survivors. It can express despair, vulnerability and worthlessness. Some, coping with psychosis, could be responding to hallucinations, while others could see it as a way to cleanse or atone for their sins.
Dr. Kalish says exhibitionism is extremely rare in women, because "feminine modesty" tends to carry over in suicidal deaths.
"It's hard to figure out what kind of message she would be sending, if it was in fact a suicide, by binding herself and being naked," continued Dr. Kalish.
Two days prior to the Arizona native's death, the six-year-old son of Zahau's boyfriend - 54-year-old Jonah Shacknai - fell down the stairs onto a chandelier at the home. According to his sister's Facebook page, the boy died from his injuries.
With no note left behind or any known mental health issues or past attempts, Dr. Kalish says her death raises some serious suspicions about whether this is really a murder case masquerading as a suicide.
"What we know at this point, raises more questions than it supplies us with answers, but if I had to guess at this point, my guess is that it's a homicide rather than a suicide," Dr. Kalish noted.
Dr. Kalish says the one person who could perhaps shed more light on this bizarre crime is the one person we have yet to see or hear from, which is Jonah Shacknai. As of this report, investigators would not discuss where he is, they would only say they are in contact with him.
Investigators have not commented on any evidence in the case, but have said no one is considered a suspect at this time.