Coronado Mansion Mystery: Attorney says evidence proves Zahau wa - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Coronado Mansion Mystery: Attorney says evidence proves Zahau was killed

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CORONADO (NEWS 8) – It has been more than six years since a woman was found tied-up, naked and hanging at a historic mansion in Coronado – her death was ruled a suicide.

On Monday, an attorney for Rebecca Zahau’s family, Keith Greer, said a closer look at evidence has revealed she was in fact murdered.

According to a previous civil suit filed in superior court, the ex-wife of Rebecca Zahau’s boyfriend, along with her sister were named as defendants. However, they have since been cleared and now only Adam Shacknai, the brother of Zahau’s boyfriend, according to the civil suit, is responsible for Zahau’s death – despite the official finding that Zahau took her own life.

The attorney for Zahau’s family said the litigation is not about money but about clearing Zahau’s name.

“The family wants the world to know that Rebecca was not the kind of person who would kill herself or humiliate her family in this way,” said Greer.

In July of 2011, Rebecca Zahau was found naked, bound and hanging from a balcony of the mansion owned by her boyfriend, millionaire Jonah Shacknai. Days earlier, Jonah Shacknai’s six-year-old son, Max, died after falling over second-floor railing of the mansion – while Zahau was watching him.

Authorities determined Zahau’s death was a suicide – a ruling her family has adamantly rejected for years.

“She was manually strangled and she was hung off the deck,” said Greer. 

Greer said the new evidence provided by expert witnesses from forensic pathologists to DNA and fingerprint experts pieced together a story that shows Adam Shacknai, the brother of Jonah Shacknai and the only person home at the time of Zahau’s death, was responsible.

From the handwriting on a mysterious note left behind to a disturbing conclusion by another expert that Zahau was first sexually assaulted with the handle of a steak knife before her death, as well as a suspicious lack of DNA and fingerprints at the scene, according to Greer, suggests potential evidence had been purposely wiped down.

“The handwriting on the door was left behind by the killer. That has indications, according to the experts that it is Adam as opposed to Rebecca. It is not what is found here that is interesting. It is what is not found,” said Greer.

Greer said the family hopes that in light of new evidence, the Sheriff’s Department will reopen its investigation and ultimately change its determination that Rebecca Zahau took her own life.

The department has consistently held that it conducted a thorough investigation and has stood behind its conclusion that Zahau’s death was a suicide.

News 8 reached out to the attorney representing Adam Shacknai for comment but has not heard back.

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