SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – San Diego Superior Court Judge David Danielsen unsealed three of six search warrants Tuesday morning related to the hanging death of Rebecca Zahau at the Spreckels mansion.
The warrants were requested by San Diego County Sheriff Department homicide investigators. One was served on the Coronado mansion July 13, the day Rebecca Zahau was found hanging. Two more were served to obtain cell phone records from AT&T and Verizon.
The list of 45 items taken from the mansion consisted of the following:
2. Pair black gloves
3. Paper towel w/red stains
4. Box w/paint supplies
5. Dr. Pepper bottle
7. Flip camera
8. Basket w/cameras
9. Stain kit
10. Clump of hair
11. Document addressed to Jonah
12. Tissue w/red stain
15. Receipt for paint supplies
17. Water bottle
19. 2 red plastic cups
21. Black latex glove
23. Greeting card
24. Paper w/writing
New information included in the search warrant affidavits is contained in the following quotes from the unsealed records:
"Jonah (Shacknai) was at the gym when he received a call from Rebecca telling him about Maxfield's accident. He immediately went home then followed the ambulance transporting Maxfield to the hospital."
"(Jonah) said on July 11, 2011, he was at the hospital with son, Maxfield. He went to his residence in Coronado later that evening to shower and pack a change of clothes. He returned to the Ronald McDonald House, across the street from Rady's Children's Hospital, at about 0155 hours, but they were at full capacity so he got a hotel at the Homestead Inn for the night. He returned to the hospital on July 12, 2011, around 0530-0600. His ex-wife, Dina Shacknai, was at the hospital when he arrived. Dina left and went to her residence in Coronado to gets some sleep."
"Dina returned to the hospital on July 12, 2011, at about 1800 hours. Rebecca and Adam came to the hospital to pick up Jonah and his friend, Howard. They left the hospital, dropped off Howard at the airport then went to eat some dinner. Jonah returned to the hospital around 2000 hours and Dina was still there. Rebecca and Adam returned to the residence in Coronado. (Jonah) left the hospital around 0100 hours and went to Ronald McDonald House. Dina stayed at the hospital. (Jonah) returned to the hospital on July 13, 2011 at about 0700 hours and Dina was still there"
"(Jonah) received a text message from his brother, Adam Shacknai, on July 13, 2011, at about 0648 hours, advising Rebecca had hung herself."
"On July 13, 2011… detectives… facilitated a polygraph examination of Adam Shacknai with Polygrapher Paul Redden. Redden said based on the analysis of the polygraph charts he couldn't draw a conclusion, but felt Adam was being truthful during the examination."
Three search warrants served by Coronado police investigators remain sealed, and currently are being reviewed by Judge Danielsen.
News 8 and nine other media outlets in San Diego and Phoenix had hired an attorney, and a hearing to determine the status of the warrants was scheduled for Thursday, when the surprise unsealing notice came from the court Tuesday morning.
Meantime, a forensic crime scene expert hired by the Zahau family claimed Tuesday that he has discovered a new set of unidentified footprints on the balcony in evidence photos posted online.
Dr. Maurice Godwin said the photos show Zahau's heel and toe prints, a shoe print from a Coronado police officer who stepped on the balcony while clearing the crime scene, and two additional shoe prints from a third, unknown person.
"These are narrow shoe markings and it's not the alleged boot of the officer," Dr. Godwin said. "You can see where the officer's prints went right over the (unidentified) markings."
In a Skype interview from his home in Fayetteville, NC, Dr. Godwin said the new footprint evidence leads him to believe Zahau was murdered.
"I think this is clearly a murder, yes," said Dr. Godwin. "This places someone in that room on that balcony other than the victim and the (Coronado police) officer."
On Monday, Jonah Shacknai sent a letter to the California Attorney General requesting Zahau's investigation into the hanging death be reviewed.
Jonah Shacknai issued the following statement at the same time he released his letter to the AG:
Jonah Shacknai Confirms Letter to California AG Asking Her Assistance in Bringing Closure to Devastating Deaths of His Son Max and Rebecca Zahau; Says Has No Reason to Doubt Authorities Findings
In response to media inquiries, Jonah Shacknai today confirmed that he sent a letter to the Attorney General of the State of California requesting her assistance "in bringing some clarity, dignity, and ultimately closure to the devastating deaths of (his) youngest son, Max Shacknai , and (his) girlfriend and companion of two years, Rebecca Zahau, in Coronado this July."
"To be clear," Mr. Shacknai wrote Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, "I have no reason to doubt the San Diego and Coronado authorities' findings, and I remain appreciative of their dedication and professionalism throughout this process… Having received a courtesy private and highly detailed briefing from law enforcement on August 30th shortly before the authorities' September 2nd press conference, as the Zahaus and our family each separately did that same week, I was and continue to be persuaded that the announced conclusions were sound, scientific, and supported by a thorough and competent investigation… At the same time I believe the only way to achieve some dignified resolution for everyone who has been touched by the horrible events of this summer will be through the efforts of your office… "The heartbreak of these losses, as anyone might imagine, is unbearable," he states in the letter.
"My family and I struggle to move forward and deal privately with our grief. Unfortunately, despite the announcement on September 2nd of the findings of the investigation of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the Coronado Police Department, and the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office that Rebecca's death was a suicide, the unrelenting and often vicious speculation and innuendo in certain media outlets continue to bring further pain to everyone who has been touched by these tragic events. ... Following the enormous losses of Max and Rebecca, it is intolerable to sit back and watch my other children and the rest of my family, and my former wife Dina's family, tormented with these unfounded rumors and accusations.
For this reason, and to further enhance the public's confidence in the integrity of the law enforcement process and finally bring closure to these terrible tragedies, I would respectfully request that you undertake to evaluate the investigatory methods and conclusions of the San Diego and Coronado authorities in this case."
The letter concludes: "I pray Max and Rebecca are now at peace, and I hope you (Attorney General Harris) might be able to help the rest of us devastated by their losses achieve some peace and closure as well."
In the meantime, family members of Rebecca Zahau, who do not believe Zahau took her own life, are also launching their own appeal to the state Attorney General. An on-line petition, started by Zahau's ex-husband, Neil Nalepa, is requesting the AG's office re-open the case, adding, "It is my belief that not only did Rebecca and her family not receive justice that day, but the public was also asked to swallow this information and believe it as well."
More than 100 people have already signed the electronic petition.