Cellphone Records Leave Medicis' Shacknai Stuck in Catch-22

Last Updated Sep 20, 2011 9:44 AM EDT

The release of call records from the cellphone of the girlfriend of Medicis (MRX) CEO Jonah Shacknai, who was found hanging from a balcony in his Coronado, Calif., mansion in July, do little to shed light on her death. But they do indicate that the case is unlikely to go away despite the police's suicide verdict. The records show that the evening before her death she talked to Jonah, his brother Adam, and her sister, with whom she also exchanged a series of text messages.

The family of Rebecca Zahau Nalepa has set up a website asking the public to donate funds for a private reinvestigation of the case. They believe she did not kill herself.

There is a pattern emerging here: Details about the case are likely to keep leaking out, in dribs and drabs, for months or even years to come. Yet despite the bizarre circumstances -- she allegedly took off her clothes, tied herself up, and painted "she saved him can you save her" on a bedroom door before throwing herself from the second floor -- there is no evidence to indicate that anyone else was involved in her death. As one lawyer has pointed out, if she was killed her murderer must have worn "some type of space suit and levitated over the scene" to avoid leaving footprints or DNA.

Red herrings
And there are plenty of red herrings in the case. The Daily Mail and Radar recently reported that a pink or red rope found hanging from the balcony at the scene was not visible when TV helicopters flew over the house but was visible in police photographs of the scene, suggesting someone had tied it there after Zahau's body was discovered. But, as 760AM KFMB figured out, this turns out to be complete nonsense. The rope was there all along; the chopper video, shot from distance, is too just washed out to show it.

The cellphone records indicate Rebecca listened to a 2 minute voicemail at 12.50 a.m. on July 13. Police said that voicemail was from Jonah Shacknai, to inform her that his son 6-year-old son Max was about to die. Max had fallen from a staircase two days earlier, and Rebecca had given him CPR before the ambulance came. The records don't show Shacknai leaving that voicemail, a fact the Zahau family lawyer believes is rather mysterious. But according to according to an AT&T spokesperson:
When someone calls you and you do not pick it up, or the call was not received, it goes straight to voicemail ... It is not logged on your bill per se. If you're not answering it or if your phone's turned off, it's not going to register.
Shacknai is trapped in a Catch-22: He has threatened to sue the Zahau family if they keep making false statements, but were he to make good on the threat it would simply re-ignite publicity around the case, which leaves the Zahau family to continue their claims unchallenged.

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