The family of Rebecca Zahau, the 32-year-old woman who was found hanging nude from a second story balcony two years ago, has filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit claiming that she was murdered.
On July 13, 2011, Zahau was found hanging from the second floor balcony of the historic Spreckels Mansion, which was owned by her live-in boyfriend, 54-year-old Medicis Pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai. Her death was ruled a suicide.
The family has named Shacknai’s brother, Adam, his ex-wife, Dina, and her twin sister, Nina Romano in the lawsuit. The suit alleges that the three of them “participated in some manner in the planning, implementation, execution and subsequent concealment of the scheme to murder” Zahau.
The suit claims that they were responsible for Zahau’s death, but doesn’t provide specific evidence, but alleges that the “defendants planned and prepared to batter and murder Rebecca and did thereafter brutally, and with malice aforethought, stalk, attack, choke, bound and hang” her at the mansion. No criminal charges have been filed.
Jonah Shacknai was not named in the lawsuit.
Authorities said that Zahau committed suicide because she was distraught over the death of Shacnknai’s 6-year-old son, Max, who had fallen from the staircase banister two days prior to Zahau’s death. The death was ruled accidental, but in August 2012, Dina Shacknai requested that her son’s case be re-opened because things “didn’t add up” to her. Two experts who reviewed the case said Max appeared to have been beaten before he fell from the balcony, and that he could have either been pushed by someone or fallen trying to get away from his assailant.
Rebecca Zahau’s body was found by Adam Shacknai, who cut her down from the balcony. Her hands and feet were bound, and a T-shirt was wrapped around her face. There also appeared to be tape residue on her legs. The family has insisted that she did not kill herself and that she was a “happy” person who exhibited no signs of depression.