Mansion Deaths: Jonah Shacknai Wants Review of Investigation

Millionaire asks Calif. AG to examine Rebecca Zahau death investigation.

Sept. 20, 2011 — -- Jonah Shacknai, the California millionaire whose son died in an accident and whose long-time girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, died in a mysterious hanging, has asked the California attorney general to review the investigation of their deaths.

Further investigation would be helpful in "bringing some clarity, dignity, and ultimately closure to the devastating deaths," Shacknai wrote in a letter sent to the attorney general Monday and obtained by ABC News.

"The circumstances of Rebecca's suicide were so unusual and upsetting that it was difficult to accept the hard facts that were presented."

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Zahau, 32, was found hanging from a balcony in Shacknai's Coronado, Calif., mansion July 13. She was found nude with her wrists and feet bound with red rope. She allegedly scrawled black paint in a nearby bedroom: "she saved him can you save her."

For more information about the case and to hear more from the Zahau family, visit their website.

Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, died from injuries sustained after falling down the stairs. His death was ruled an accident.

Zahau was babysitting Max when he tumbled down the stairs on July 11. Mary Zahau, her sister, said she called her soon after it happened.

"She said, 'I was in the bathroom and I heard this loud crash,'" Zahau said. "And she said, 'I came out and saw that Max was -- Max was on the floor. She sounded upset, but not frantic, not hysterical."

Mary's husband Doug Loehner said he spoke to Rebecca Zahau the next day when the little boy was in critical condition at the hospital.

"I told her like, you know, it's not your fault, you know, don't blame yourself," he said. "And she's like, no, I don't, I don't. I just have to be there for Jonah. She was upset, but she wasn't...she didn't blame herself."

Investigators concluded that Rebecca Zahau took her own life two days after Max's fall, saying she was riddled with guilt about his injuries and knowledge that his condition was grave.

Roy Black, a criminal defense attorney, has followed the case closely and examined the autopsy reports. He told ABC News that the police's conclusion Zahau committed suicide is "inescapable."

"The chances of someone wrapping a rope around her neck, dragging her up and throwing her over the balcony without her fighting back, without a single piece of evidence with no evidence of a struggle is virtually impossible," he said.

Many, including Zahau's family, have questioned the ruling of the death as a suicide. Zahau was found gagged and there was blood on her body and she suffered hemorrhages.

"You mean to tell me...somebody who's doing really well all 32 years of her life in a matter of two hours is going to do all this elaborate plan," said Mary Zahau.

The Zahau's family attorney Anne Bremner, who said that the case should be reopened, hired renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht to review Rebecca Zahau's autopsy report. Wecht, who has reviewed autopsies on women who have committed suicide for the past 50 years, disputed the findings.

"She has to get up on top of the railing and then fling herself over. Did she do that head first and then tumble and turn around? Did she go over feet first, I don't know. I would like to see reenactments. To my knowledge, she was not a member of Cirque du Soleil," he said.

Wecht also said that it is very uncommon for a woman to take her own life while nude.

"I can't tell you that it doesn't happen, but I can tell you that it is rare," Wecht said. "Women have a sense of propriety, of decorum, of dignity, even when they're committing suicide."

With so many questions from the media and Zahau's family, Shacknai felt compelled to write the letter to the attorney general. While he does not question the results of the initial investigation, Shacknai hopes a review of the methods and findings will "enhance the public's confidence" and "finally bring closure to these terrible tragedies."

"To be clear, I have no reason to doubt the San Diego and Coronado authorities' findings, and I remain appreciate of their dedication and professionalism throughout this process," Shacknai wrote.

"At the same time, I believe the only way to achieve some dignified resolution for everyone who has been touched by the horrible events of this summer will be through the efforts of your office. I pray Max and Rebecca are now at peace and I hope you might be able to help the rest of us ... achieve some peace and closure."

For more information about the case and to hear more from the Zahau family, visit their website.