Rebecca Zahau was found hanging naked with arms and legs bound but her family are certain it was not suicide
32-year-old Rebecca Zahau died in July 2011 and her death has remained a mystery till today. She was found hanging naked, with her arms and legs bound from the second story balcony of the Coronado mansion where she lived with her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department insisted and also ruled her death as a suicide. These claims were rejected by Zahau's family who believes her strong Christian faith would have prevented her from doing so. They also refute claims Zahau was depressed in the days leading up to her death and say she was making plans for the future on the night she died.
Former Prosecutor Loni Coombs shared in the new Oxygen documentary 'Death at the Mansion: Rebecca Zahau', "I, personally, have been agonizing over this case ever since I heard about it. Ever since I heard that they declared it a suicide, I wanted to know, what's really going on here?"
Who was Rebecca Zahau?
Zahau was a Burmese immigrant who met her millionaire boyfriend Jonah Shacknai in Arizona and it seemed to be the perfect Cinderella story. Her pharmaceutical executive boyfriend was also 22 years older than her. She was an educated woman who was a world traveler and spoke 6 different languages. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician in Arizona until about seven months before she died in the resort city of Coronado, California.
The weeks leading up to Rebecca Zahau's death
People who think Zahau's death was suicide, claim she had a reason to be depressed and was distraught. Just days before her passing, Jonah's 6-year-old son Max, whom she was very fond of was seriously injured in a freak accident. The accident took place when Zahau was babysitting Max and she said she was in the bathroom when she heard a loud sound.
She came out to find Max lying on the floor badly injured. He succumbed to his injuries and died three days after Zahau died. It is believed that Zahau was devastated when the child was in coma post the accident.
Her death and the controversy behind it
Rebecca Zahau's lifeless body was discovered by Adam Shacknai who was Jonah's brother. He was also staying at the mansion when Zahau died. Adam told the authorities he had found Zahau hanging from the balcony and had cut her down. She was found nude with her hands and feet bound behind her back. To add to the bizarre crime scene, a note was found painted on her bedroom door.
The message which had been written in black paint, read, "She saved him can you save her." Zahau was found with her arms and legs tied which did not seem possible if it was suicide as the knots seemed to be quite complicated. There is also the factor that she was found naked and according to her sister Mary Zahau Loehner, Zahau would never allow herself to be seen that way.
Former Prosecutor Loni Coombs also added, "I feel like I understand her mindset, and the last thing she would've done in that circumstance is kill herself naked. I don't believe it. And I think the right thing needs to be done."
Zahau and her sister Mary spoke to each other frequently and had spoken to each other on the last night Zahau was seen alive. The two had spoken about Zahau coming back home for a visit but Zahau did not want to leave as she wanted to help her boyfriend take care of Max. Zahau did tell her sister that she would definitely be back to celebrate their father's 80th birthday party in October.
Mary added that Zahau had planned to go to bed early that day so she could wake up early and get to the hospital. Mary told the San Diego Reader, "All of it. All of it doesn’t fit. The conversation she and I had the day before [she died], none of it adds up. She had two detailed plans for the next day: to take things for Jonah [to the hospital where he was tending to Max] to fix something for him to eat. She told me to tell our mom that she would call her on her way to the hospital in the morning. That she was going to text me throughout the day. I mean, that’s somebody who’s planning to kill herself?"
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).