Rebecca Zahau's Family Demands Case be Reopened

Rebecca Zahau's sister says she didn't commit suicide at Coronado mansion.

ByABC News
September 19, 2011, 8:03 AM

Sept. 19, 2011 — -- The family of Rebecca Zahau, the woman found naked, bound and hanging at a Coronado, Calif., mansion, want the investigation into her death reopened.

"It seemed like from the beginning a lot of things were ignored," said Mary Zahau-Loehner, Rebecca Zahau's sister.

The family believes that Rebecca Zahau is the victim of murder, not suicide.

Rebecca Zahau was the girlfriend of pharmaceutical mogul Jonah Shacknai. Her death came two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son Max fell down the stairs at the historic Spreckels Mansion where they were staying. The boy died of his injuries.

Rebecca Zahau's nude body was found on July 13. Her hands and feet were bound. She allegedly painted a message in black paint that read, "she saved him can you save her."

Investigators have ruled Rebecca Zahau's death a suicide.

"Rebecca received news regarding Max's grave condition at about 10 minutes to one in the morning. She made the decision to take her own life," said San Diego County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Nemeth.

Mary Zahau said that she spoke to her sister just hours before she learned that Max had taken a turn for the worse. She said that the her sister sounded normal.

"I would like people to remember my sister as a beautiful, loving, caring, kind person. And that she would not hurt anybody, anybody...even herself," said Zahau-Loehner.

Zahau-Loehner and her family continue to question how the 32-year-old woman could have killed herself if her feet and hands were bound.

In a statement, Jonah Shacknai, Zahau's boyfriend, called her, "a wonderful and unique person who will always have a special place in my heart. We will try to rebuild our lives and honor the memories we carry with us."

Since investigators ruled the death a suicide, respected forensic examiners have questioned the ruling, saying that Zahau's death could indicate a ritualistic killing and that the injuries suggest a substantial blow to the head.

Red rope was found tied around Rebecca Zahau's ankles and wrists. The autopsy report showed that Zahau had four hemorrhages and blood was found on Rebecca Zahau's legs , as well as bruises and tape residue. It also showed that part of a T-shirt had been in her mouth.

ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said its unlikely that the case will be reopened in a way that will make the Zahau family happy.

Abrams said that even if the case is labeled closed, investigators are still looking at new evidence and leads as they get it because of the high profile nature of the case.

Abrams said that the circumstances of the death were odd, but investigators would argue they have an explanation for each circumstance.

"If this had been a murder, there probably would be an enormous amount of evidence public," Abrams said.

The Zahau family has launched a web site and fund to help them in their quest to learn more about Rebecca Zahau's death.