Waiting for answers in mansion deaths mystery - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Waiting for answers in mansion deaths mystery

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CORONADO (CBS 8) - It has been a week since the naked body of 32-year-old woman Rebecca Zahau was found hanging from a balcony at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado. That's the same place where the six-year-old son of the mansion's owner fell from a staircase and later died from his injuries.

The Coronado police chief tells News 8 at this point there doesn't appear to be any criminal activity involved in this case, and that could point to suicide, but Rebecca Zahau's sister tells us Rebecca would never have taken her own life.

One week after the shocking death of Zahau, who was found hanging from a balcony at the Spreckels Mansion on Coronado, her naked body bound at her hands and feet, investigators aren't yet certain if she was murdered or took her own life.

"There are documentations of incidents throughout the country where people have secured their feet and hands as well to commit suicide, so we have to keep an open mind," San Diego County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Roy Frank said.

The motivation is so they can't change their minds and free themselves.

"Some of the psychologists will tell you once that decision is made, there is an urge of self-preservation, and this is one way to preclude oneself from stopping an attempt to end their life," Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon said.

One possible suicide theory is that Zahau might have hung the noose from the balcony, binding her hands and feet before stepping off a table. A table was one of the items taken from the mansion as evidence.

Zahau's sister tells News 8 it's upsetting to hear investigators are considering suicide as a possible cause of death, saying:

"Obviously the investigation is not complete yet, but as far as what I know about my sister, my sister did not commit a suicide. My sister was not depressed, my sister was not frantic, my sister was planning to call my parents the next day and was planning to keep me posted about Max the next day."

She's referring to six-year-old Max Shacknai, the son of Zahau's boyfriend, 54-year-old multi-millionaire Jonah Shacknai. Two days before Zahau was found dead, Max had taken a bad fall down a staircase in the mansion under Zahau's watch. He later died. Chief Scanlon won't reveal what caused Max to fall, but says they have no reason to believe it was anything other than a tragic accident.

"The boy was found at the foot of a staircase. He was not responsive, he did not have a pulse, he was not breathing," Scanlon said.

As Coronado residents wait for answers as to what happened inside the historic home, Scanlon is assuring the public Coronado remains a safe community.

"We believe this to be an isolated incident. We have no reason to believe there was, at this point, any criminal activity involved in this, so people should feel safe," he said.

There's no criminal activity at this point, but it could be weeks before a determination is made. There's still evidence to process and toxicology results to receive and review. Both Coronado PD and the sheriff's department say they don't want to make any mistakes.

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