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Police looking for answers in mysterious Calif. mansion deaths

Exec, wife had stormy past before son died, say police
Jonah Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau
CBS/KFMB

(CBS/KFBM/AP) CORNADO, Calif. - It has been a week since the naked body of 32-year-old woman Rebecca Zahau was found hanging from a balcony at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado - where days earlier the mansion owner's six-year-old son fell from a staircase and later died from his injuries.

Pictures: Girlfriend, son die days apart at tycoon's Calif. mansion

The Coronado police chief told CBS affiliate KFBM that at this point there doesn't appear to be any criminal activity involved in this case, and that could point to suicide, but Rebecca Zahau's sister said Rebecca would never have taken her own life.

One week after the shocking death of Zahau, whose naked body was bound at the hands and feet, investigators aren't yet certain if she was murdered or took her own life.

"There are documentations of incidents throughout the country where people have secured their feet and hands as well to commit suicide, so we have to keep an open mind," San Diego County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Roy Frank said.

The motivation is so they can't change their minds and free themselves, according to KFBM.

Zahau's sister told KFBM it's upsetting to hear investigators are considering suicide as a possible cause of death.

"Obviously the investigation is not complete yet, but as far as what I know about my sister, my sister did not commit a suicide. My sister was not depressed, my sister was not frantic, my sister was planning to call my parents the next day and was planning to keep me posted about Max the next day," said Zahau's sister to the station.

She's referring to six-year-old Max Shacknai, the son of Zahau's boyfriend, 54-year-old multi-millionaire Jonah Shacknai. Two days before Zahau was found dead, Max had taken a bad fall down a staircase in the mansion under Zahau's watch. He later died.

"The boy was found at the foot of a staircase. He was not responsive, he did not have a pulse, he was not breathing," Chief Scanlon said, reports the station.

As Coronado residents wait for answers as to what happened inside the historic home, Scanlon is assuring the public Coronado remains a safe community.

"We believe this to be an isolated incident. We have no reason to believe there was, at this point, any criminal activity involved in this, so people should feel safe," he said.

More on Crimesider

July 20, 2011 - Exec, wife had stormy past before son died, say police

July 15, 2011 - Naked, bound woman found hanging at historic California mansion


  • Camille Mann

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