Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Coronado Mansion Death

The lawsuit claims Rebecca Zahau’s July 2011 death at the Spreckels Mansion was a murder, not suicide

Exactly two years after Rebecca Zahau’s body was found hanging at a historic mansion in Coronado, her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming her death was a murder, not a suicide.

The $10 million lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court – one day before the two-year anniversary of Zahau’s death - according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The suit names Adam and Dina Shacknai, the brother and ex-wife of Zahau’s millionaire boyfriend, as well as Nina Romano, Dina Shacknai’s twin sister.

On July 13, 2011, Zahau, 32, was found nude hanging from a balcony at the famous Spreckels Mansion in Coronado.

Her death came two days after boyfriend Jonah Shacknai’s 6-year-old son, Max Shacknai, fatally fell at the home while under Zahau’s watch.

TIMELINE: Deaths at Coronado Spreckels Mansion

Ultimately, homicide investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department concluded that Zahau had committed suicide.

When Sheriff Bill Gore and his detectives revealed the results of their investigation in September 2011, sources told NBC 7 that investigators believed Zahau felt tremendous guilt over Max’s death, leading to her suicide.

Over the past two years, Zahau’s family has been very vocal about the case, refusing to accept the suicide ruling.

This past May, the Zahau family and their attorneys filed a lawsuit demanding the case be reopened. While the family didn’t identify potential suspects, they claimed all evidence in the case points to homicide.

"Anybody that looks at this objectively, doesn't see suicide," said attorney Marty Rudoy in May 2013. “My guess is 99.9% of people in the world think this is a homicide and the only people who think it’s a suicide are the authorities in San Diego.”

At that time, Zahau’s sister, Snowem, said there had been no communication between the Zahau family and her late sister’s former fiancé, millionaire Jonah Shacknai, since Zahau’s death.

Snowem said Zahau never indicated that the Shacknai family blamed her for Max’s fatal fall, and was therefore not suicidal at the time of her death.

“We’re not just looking for compelling evidence of suicide, we’re looking for any evidence of suicide,” said Zahau family attorney David Fleck back in May. “I believe there are several people who should have been in jail later that day that Rebecca was found dead and they should’ve been charged with first degree murder within two days after.

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