Jonah Shacknai has asked California's attorney general to review investigators' findings that his girlfriend killed herself by tying her wrists and ankles and hanging herself naked from a balcony of his historic mansion.
Shacknai, an Arizona pharmaceuticals tycoon, said he hoped the review would give "confidence, comfort and resolution" to those questioning that Rebecca Zahau committed suicide July 13 at his Coronado mansion. He sent a request to California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday.
"The unrelenting and often vicious speculation and innuendo in certain media outlets continue to bring further pain to everyone who has been touched by these tragic events," Shacknai said in a statement.
"It is intolerable to sit back and watch my other children and the rest of my family, and my former wife Dina's family, tormented with these unfounded rumors and accusations."
Several members of Zahau's family have disputed the investigation's conclusion that Zahau killed herself.
Detectives said the red rope tied around Zahau's neck was attached to a bed inside the home and the foot and toe impressions found on the balcony were hers.
Forsenic evidence showed Zahau leaned over the railing and fell to her death, investigators said. They said that the railing disturbances were consistent with Zahau's petite torso. Toe impressions were consistent with person leaning up over railing and going over the railing, officials said.
Shacknai did acknowledge in his letter that the circumstances were "undeniably strange." However, he said he had no reason to doubt findings by authorities in San Diego County that Zahau, 32, killed herself two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son accidentally fell while under her watch. Max Shacknai died days later.
Local investigators believe Zahau tied rope to bedposts and around her wrists and ankles. They think she loosely bound her wrists, took one arm out and put both arms behind her back before tightening the noose.
NBC San Diego has received a copy of the letter Jonah recieved from Harris' office. It reads:
Dear Mr. Shacknai,
Thank you for your September 19 letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris, who sends her condolences for your profound loss. On behalf of both the Attorney General and her staff, we offer our sympathy for the tragedy that is the reason for your correspondence. Your letter requests an inquiry into the investigation that was conducted by the San Diego Sheriff's Office. The California Department of Justice would review a local investigation under very narrow circumstances. Some of the factors that are considered before committing the state's scarce resources include whether a clear conflict of interest exists, whether a local law enforcement agency has requested assistance, whether local investigative resources have been exhausted, and whether there are allegations of gross malfeasance by the investigative agency. Based on a review of your request, we must decline your invitation to review this investigation at this time.
Please accept our sincere condolences for your tragic loss, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Sincerely, Dane R. Gillette Chief Assistant Attorney General
Jonah Shacknai responded to the letter and also sent us a copy. It reads:
“I would like to thank Attorney General Harris for her condolences and consideration of my request to evaluate this matter. I respect and accept the determination of the chief law enforcement authority in the State of California that the circumstances of this investigation do not warrant further review by the Attorney General at this time. Given the unusual facts of this tragedy, I understand that Rebecca’s family and others continue to have questions. If at any time there is new substantive evidence bearing on this case, it should be presented, not in tabloid form to fuel rumor and innuendo, but rather to appropriate law enforcement authorities who may determine whether further investigation is warranted. I continue to pray Max and Rebecca are now at peace, and that all of us devastated by their losses will be permitted to continue to grieve privately as we struggle to achieve some peace and closure.”
The Associated Press / NBC San Diego