Parents Think Daughter Was Murdered

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – Parents of Rebecca Zahau, who died in a millionaire’s California mansion, sued San Diego County, demanding access to evidence they say could prove their daughter was murdered.
     Zahau, 32, was found hanging naked from a second floor balcony at the waterfront Spreckels Mansion in Coronado in July 2011, by Adam Shacknai, the brother of he her boyfriend and owner of the 27-room property, Jonah Shacknai.
     Jonah’s 6-year old son, Max, died after falling from a staircase banister two days before Zahau’s body was discovered.
     Jonah Shacknai is an Arizona pharmaceuticals tycoon. Zahau, his girlfriend of two years, was a Myanmar native and an ophthalmic technician. Max was Shacknai’s son from a previous marriage, according to contemporary news reports.
     The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department ruled that Zahau committed suicide, and that Max’s fall was an accident. But Zahau’s parents believe their daughter’s death was a homicide.
     Zahau’s parents Zung Tin Par and Khua Hnin Thang, sued San Diego County, its Sheriff William Gore, and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Glenn Wagner, in Superior Court.
     Adam and Jonah Shacknai are not parties to the complaint. Two of Zahau’s sisters are also plaintiffs.
     The family wants to inspect dozens of items seized in the investigations of Zahau’s and Max’s deaths. They also requested DNA and forensic evidence, photos, audio files, phone records, video, transcripts of witness interviews, and autopsy reports.
     The family claims that Adam Shacknai called 911 on the morning of July 1, 2011. The parents want a clean copy of the recording of that call. They claim there is “an unexplained ‘8-second gap'” in the recording, though the Coronado Police Department told them there was no such gap in the original call.
     After San Diego County investigated Zahau’s death for “only a few weeks,” the Sheriff’s Department announced on Sep. 2 that Zahau had killed herself.
     This “despite her body having been found nude, hands bound behind her back, legs bound, with a noose over her hair and neck, with a blue Massimo T-shirt tied three times around the noose, with the tail stuffed in her mouth as a gag, and unexplained clear plastic tape residue on her leg,” the complaint states.
     “Not only were there signs of a struggle, such as an overturned chair in the room from which the rope was suspended, paint splattered on Rebecca’s chest and the noose, wounds on her hand and blood on her body, and a painted taunt on the door of the bedroom saying, ‘She Saved Him Can You Save Her’ – there was a lack of evidence of suicide such as a suicide note,” according to the complaint.
     A forensic pathologist and a retired homicide detective have concluded that Zahau was the victim of a homicide, the parents claim.
     Under California law, “the parents and siblings of a murder or suicide victim are entitled to the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence,” the complaint states.
     They also want to look at Zahau’s digital cameras, her cell phone, and ropes, knives, paintbrushes, a candle and the bedroom door that displayed the painted message.
     The 1908 Spreckels mansion was named after its first owner, sugar, transportation and real estate magnate John Spreckels.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Martin Rudoy with Rudoy Fleck of Sherman Oaks.

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