911 call released in hanging death at Spreckels mansion - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

911 call released in hanging death at Spreckels mansion

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Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found dead at the Spreckels mansion on July 13 Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found dead at the Spreckels mansion on July 13

AUDIO: Coronado mansion 911 call:
(Warning: graphic content)

CORONADO, Calif. (CBS 8) - A dramatic 911 call that reported a hanging death at Coronado's Spreckels mansion has been released to News 8. Most of the four and a half minute audio recording has never been heard publicly.

The call was placed to Coronado police dispatch by Adam Shacknai, the brother of the mansion owner, Jonah Shacknai.

Adam Shacknai, 48, had flown to San Diego and was staying in the mansion's guest house.

Adam's nephew, Max Shacknai, 6, was hospitalized at the time, after taking a severe fall down the staircase at the mansion. The boy would later die from his injuries.

Adam called 911 on his cell phone at 6:45 a.m. on July 13 to report finding his brother's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, 32, hanging from a courtyard balcony.

DISPATCHER: 911 emergency. What are you reporting?

ADAM SHACKNAI: Yeah, I got a girl hung herself in the guest house of ah... it's on Ocean Blvd. across from the hotel; the same place that you came and got the kid yesterday.

DISPATCHER: Okay, sir, what is the address?

ADAM SHACKNAI: I'm not sure, ah, I'm not sure. Let me call you back.

DISPATCHER: Okay, sir, is she still alive?

ADAM SHACKNAI: I don't know.

During the 911 call, Adam Shacknai can be heard hyperventilating while apparently moving a wooden table into a position underneath the naked, bound and gagged body of Rebecca Zahau.

At one point, it sounds as if one of the wooden legs of the table breaks off and falls to the ground, while Adam scrambles to cut down Zahau's corpse.

DISPATCHER: Sir, are you there?

ADAM SHACKNAI: Are you alive? I'm doing CPR right now.

The Memphis resident was apparently unsure of the mansion's exact address when asked for the location by the Coronado dispatcher.

DISPATCHER: Sir, I've checked all of the records yesterday. I can't find anything on Ocean Blvd. Can you tell me what the address is?

ADAM SHACKNAI: I'm looking.

Adam Shacknai can be heard running to the front of the house to check the street number of the mansion.

ADAM SHACKNAI: 1043 Ocean Blvd.

DISPATCHER: 1043 Ocean Blvd. Okay, is she still alive?

ADAM SHACKNAI: I don't think so.

After a few minutes, the call is transferred from Coronado police dispatch to Heartland Fire Communications Authority, which contracts with the City of Coronado Fire Department and other agencies to dispatch firefighters and paramedics for medical emergency calls.

A Heartland dispatcher then takes over the call:

DISPATCHER: Okay, what's wrong?

ADAM SHACKNAI: She hung herself, man, I just woke up.

DISPATCHER: Okay, is this a house?

ADAM SHACKNAI: It's a house.

DISPATCHER: Okay, how old is she?

ADAM SHACKNAI: I'd say about 30.

DISPATCHER: Thirty? Okay, when was the last time you saw her?

ADAM SHACKNAI: Last night.

DISPATCHER: Okay, is she beyond help?

ADAM SHACKNAI: (Unintelligible) I'm doing... I'm compressing her chest right now.

DISPATCHER: And you're right there with her? Did you cut her down?


DISPATCHER: Okay, just stay with me.

The Coronado dispatch recording ends after 4 minutes 46 seconds, even though the 911 call continues with Heartland dispatchers. That final portion of the 911 audio was recorded by Heartland but has not been released.

Heartland has denied several News 8 requests to release the audio under the California Public Records Act, claiming the audio is exempt from disclosure as a law enforcement investigatory record.

The first portion of the 911 call – the one recorded by Coronado police dispatch and aired by News 8 – was apparently released by mistake.

Coronado police gave a copy of the recording to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's department included a copy of the 911 audio when it handed over case files to attorneys representing the family of Rebecca Zahau.

Portions of the 911 audio were then obtained by the Dr. Phil Show, CNN Headline News and News 8.

The recording obtained by News 8 includes an eight-second gap in the audio at approximately 1:42 into the recording. It remains unclear whether that gap in the audio was the result of a dubbing error or an intentional redaction of content.

A Coronado Police commander said the audio gap does not exist on the original recording. A Sheriff's department spokesperson did not respond to a News 8 email asking why there is an eight-second gap in the audio. A Zahau family attorney told News 8 the audio gap may have been the result of a technical error during the dubbing process.

(News 8 has redacted Adam Shacknai's cell phone number in the 911 audio posted on this page).

Meanwhile, a meeting between Sheriff Bill Gore and two Zahau family attorneys scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 30 had been postponed until next month.

The family wants Sheriff Gore to reopen the investigation into Zahau's death, which has been ruled a suicide. Zahau family attorneys believe they have uncovered new evidence in the case that indicates Rebecca Zahau was murdered.

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