We need California Attorney General Kamala Harris to take action in this case. We need authorities to listen to Rebecca’s family and assist them in this investigation. We need an independent investigation with our experts included.
Evidence presented by the San Diego Sheriff's Office on September 2, 2011 is not substantial to prove, without a reasonable doubt, that Rebecca Zahau's death was a suicide. The San Diego Sheriff’s Office evidence is seriously flawed. The unscientific forensic evidence is based on hearsay: numerous assumptions, unsubstantiated motive, inconsistent crime scene images and conclusions. Results of Rebecca Zahau autopsy report do not reasonably prove death by hanging. Due to suspicious circumstances and flawed investigation, this case continues to generate extensive national, as well as international, media coverage. Perceived as an investigation biased against minorities, in particular Asians, the manner in which the San Diego Sheriff’s Office has handled this case reflects poorly upon San Diego.
On July 13, 2011 Rebecca Zahau died. She was found nude, her hands bound behind her back with a sports tow rope, her feet bound, a noose around her neck, and gagged with a t-shirt that was also wrapped around her neck. She was discovered by Adam Shacknai who allegedly cut Rebecca’s body down from a second story balcony of the historic Spreckels Mansion owned by her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai. Disrespectfully, authorities allowed Rebecca’s nude body to lie exposed, in the open courtyard, for over 13 hours until the Medical Examiners arrived. The image of Rebecca’s nude and bound body was videotaped by local news helicopters and broadcast to the public.
Within 48 hours, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office seemly focused their investigation on proving Rebecca was responsible for her own death, regardless of the bizarre circumstances and all evidence pointing elsewhere.
On September 2, 2011, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office concluded Rebecca had committed suicide, her death by hanging. According to its “investigation,” in the dead of night, Rebecca went to the garage, found a sports tow rope, returned to the main mansion guest room, showered, remained nude, wrote a cryptic message in the third person, in acrylic paint, on a door in handwriting not recognized by her family, cut the rope into three pieces, tied one piece of rope to the leg of a bed, then put the rope around her neck, used another piece of rope to bind her feet, gagged herself with a t-shirt and wrapped it around her neck, tied her hands behind her back, then somehow hopped to the balcony and tipped herself over in such a way that the pre-tied rope was neither too short nor too long.
According to San Diego Sheriff William D. Gore, Rebecca’s suicide is attributed to an unsubstantiated feeling of guilt over the tragic death of Jonah Shacknai’s 6-year-old son Max who suffered an accidental fall from the Mansion’s staircase on July 11th while in Rebecca’s care. Max subsequently died on July 17th, four days after Rebecca’s death. The Sheriff’s Office based its conclusion on a voice mail message that Rebecca allegedly received at 12:40 a.m. informing her of Max’s deteriorating condition. This voice mail was erased; therefore this crucial piece of evidence no longer exists. The cryptic message she allegedly wrote on the door no longer exists; this crucial piece of evidence has been painted over.
To date, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office has refused to release search warrants*, cell phone records, concrete alibis for Jonah Shacknai, Adam Shacknai, and Dina Romano, Jonah’s ex-wife and mother of six-year old Max, nor other relevant evidence in the case. It has also refused to return, to Rebecca’s family, her personal belongings, including her cell phone.
* Update: on September 20, 2011, San Diego Superior Court Judge David Danielsen unsealed three of six search warrants
San Diego Law Enforcement never contacted Rebecca’s family to report her death. The Zahau family only learned she had died upon receiving a telephone call from Jonah Shacknai on July 13th, the day of her death, informing them that Rebecca had committed suicide. The one and only time the San Diego Sheriff’s Office contacted the Zahau family was two days before the Press Conference. This contact was to inform the Zahau family that its “investigation” had concluded Rebecca’s death a suicide.
Estimated time of death has recently been reported to be between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Considering the content still remaining in Rebecca’s stomach from her last meal, time of death could indeed be 1 a.m., or possibly earlier. This in itself contradicts most of the suicide findings and projected timeline concluded by the San Diego Sheriff's Office.
On September 2, 2011, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office closed this case. In the wake of the tremendous controversy surrounding this case, Jonah Shacknai has retained high-profile legal counsel and Public Relations services. The Zahau family, with limited resources and with the conviction Rebecca did not kill herself, is left to fight for justice on their own.
A reenactment of the crime scene nor the fall from the balcony, which Sheriff William Gore states resulted in her death, were never presented. The abundance of disputed facts and evidence in this case clearly justify a new investigation, by a different California agency, into the death of Rebecca Zahau.
Collectively, as San Diego residents and friends, we are asking California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris to step in and re-open this case by means of an independent investigation.