Forensics Key in Solving Mansion Mystery

Forensic evidence will be key in determining whether the death of a woman at a Coronado mansion was a suicide or a homicide.

Rebecca Zahau, also known as Rebecca Nalepa, was found hanging from a second-story balcony of the Spreckels Mansion on July 13.

Zahau, 32, was the girlfriend of pharmaceutical company executive Jonah Shacknai who owns the mansion on Ocean Boulevard.

On Sunday, Shacknai announced his 6-year-old son Max died from injuries he sustained in a fall Monday at the same home.

Coronado police are investigating the child’s death. San Diego County sheriff’s investigators are investigating Zahau’s death. It has not been determined whether the two cases are related. Both departments are working to determine what may have happened in the days before the two deaths.

Sheriff’s investigators are being extremely methodical in the investigation while going over evidence found in and around the home said Sgt. Roy Frank.

There are no suspects or persons of interest in the case that has yet to be classified as a suicide or homicide. Everyone who has been interviewed is considered a witness Frank said. Everyone has cooperated with detectives he said.

Jonah Shacknai’s brother Adam found Zahau’s nude body and called 911. She was hanging from a rope on a second-floor balcony with her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound deputies said.

Max Shacknai was not breathing after a fall down some stairs on July 11, said Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon.

“Despite heroic efforts on the part of paramedics and hospital staff, he was unable to recover from the injuries suffered early last week,” a family statement read Sunday.

“His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will forever be in our hearts and those whom he touched every day,” the statement from Jonah Shacknai read.

The family asked that any memorial contributions honoring Max be made to Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation either by mail to 9045 E. Pima Center Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 85258, or via their website,

Contact Us