8 Strange Details About The Alleged Suicide Of A California Woman And Why Her Family Believes She Was Murdered By Her Boyfriend's Brother

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8 Strange Details About The Alleged Suicide Of A California Woman And Why Her Family Believes She Was Murdered
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Her family wants the case reopened.

The family of Rebecca Zahau, 32, filed a wrongful death lawsuit that is being taken to trial nearly seven years after she was found hanging from a balcony.

Her death was originally ruled a suicide in 2011 but her family believes she was murdered. Because of her religious background, successful career, and mysterious manner of death, many of Rebecca’s family members are convinced she did not kill herself.

"I think there are too many unanswered questions in this case," said the Zahau family’s attorney, Keith Greer.

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According to Greer, new evidence may prove did not commit suicide but was murdered.

"Most of the evidence that we have is things we got from the sheriff," he said. "We just looked at it more in-depth."

Here is everything you need to know about the death of Rebecca Zahau and the upcoming civil trial.

1. Zahau was found hanging from a balcony.

On July 13, 2011, Zahau was found tied up, naked, and hanging from the bedroom balcony of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado.

Though her death was ruled a suicide by law enforcement, her family believes otherwise and filed a lawsuit against the people they allege killed her.

2. The lawsuit named multiple people at first.

Three people — Dina Shacknai, Nina Romano, and Adam Shacknai — were included in the lawsuit filed by Zahau’s family in 2013. Zahau’s boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, was not named.

Greer said the evidence points to Adam Shacknai, Zahau’s boyfriend’s brother who was staying at the guest house of where her body was found in July 2011.

3. Each person named had a motive but the sisters were cleared.


Just days before Zahau was found dead, her boyfriend’s son, Max, died from falling down the stairs while under Zahau’s care. The boy’s death was ruled an accident, according to ABC 10 News.

The lawsuit claims Max’s mother, Dina Shacknai, and her twin sister, Nina Romano, attacked Zahau just before she died.

"At that point in time, they were just in a situation that got worse, they had to deal with it and by the time the evening was done, they decided to kill her and make it look like it wasn't them," Greer said. "Each one of the defendants we named has a strong motive to kill her."

According to ABC News 10, Greer thinks vengeance is what fueled the alleged murder.

"That anger and need for vengeance, we think, fueled this whole thing into a confrontation that eventually escalated into murder," Greer said.

Dina and Nina were later cleared by investigators and their names were taken out of the lawsuit. It was proven the sisters were not present at the time of the alleged murder.

The filed lawsuit is now just against Adam Shacknai.

4. Signs of foul play were found when the family had Zahau’s body re-examined.

The family of Zahau had her body re-examined and disturbing evidence of foul play was uncovered.

An amended complaint claims Zahau suffered four blows to the head, which wasn’t recorded in the original autopsy report.

The complaint also claims she was bound with duct tape, gagged, and strangled, according to ABC 10 News. Duct tape residue was found during the first autopsy but not further investigated.

Pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht said he leaned toward Zahau’s death being a homicide, and Greer agrees.

"And the way it was done was some way that I don't think any jury looking at this will say that it was a suicide," Greer said.

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5. The knot in the rope was a “tugboat hitch,” Shacknai was a tugboat captain.


Greer said the rope around Zahau’s neck was tied in what is called a “tugboat hitch.”

According to the attorney, Shacknai was a tugboat caption, "Which is critical to this case because one of the main reasons the medical examiner found suicide was there was no sign of a struggle."

6. Zahau may have been sexually assaulted.

A bloody knife may have been used to sexually assault Zahau according to evidence, Greer said.

"I got almost nauseous, It's already heinous what happened here to be stripped naked, bound gagged … it's already terrible. It seemed like it couldn't get any more shocking. My stomach flipped," Greer said.

7. A riddle was scribbled on the door.

“She can save him can he save her” was written in black paint on the bedroom door, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

No one bothered to call in handwriting experts to see if the writing matched either Adam or Zahau’s handwriting.

"It isn't what was found that is so significant or unusual - it's what wasn't found," Greer said in a press conference Tuesday.

8. The family wants the case reopened, not money.

Though the $10 million lawsuit against Adam Shacknai is being taken to trial, the family of Zahau says it doesn’t care about the money.

According to ABC 10 News, the Zahau family is simply looking for justice for Rebecca.

"Until the sheriff does something, the family is not going to let their sister, their daughter, die in vain," Greer told the news outlet. "At least here we can get a civil judgment that shows a jury found (Adam) was the murderer. We can hold him accountable socially, and we just hope the sheriff can take the next step."

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