According to a report by Radar Online, and KGTV 10News San Diego, both published on Monday, September 12, 2011, Jonah Shacknai told a friend of Rebecca Zahau at the funeral of his former 32-year-old girlfriend near Saint Joseph, MO on Sunday, July 24, 2011, that he didn’t think his dead lover would commit suicide.
BREAKING NEWS: This report has been updated with information obtained during a telephone interview with attorney Anne Bremner, trial attorney, former criminal prosecutor, and legal analyst.
If these remarks, relayed by Jennifer Jasionowski, the 30-something-year-old friend of Ms. Zahau, are indeed true, then Mr. Shacknai may be saying, by default, that this woman was murdered by either a current or former member of his household.
It also gives credence to the Zahau family’s unequivocal beliefs, articulated by their Seattle based attorney, Anne Bremner, that their loved one was murdered, and supports their petition to have the case reopened and investigated further, either by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO), or by an independent investigator to be appointed by Kamala Harris, who currently holds the office of California Attorney General.
Ms. Jasionowski quoted Mr. Shacknai as asking her, “Do you know anyone that would want to hurt her?”
Ms. Zahau’s friend also recalled this exchange, “He told me that the last time he saw Rebecca was when they had dinner with some friends earlier in the evening (on Tuesday, July 12), but he didn’t say who they were with. He didn’t mention leaving her a voicemail at all, (telling her that his 6-year-old son Maxfield had taken a turn for the worse, and was unlikely to recover).”
Rebecca Zahau was found completely naked, hanging from a second floor inner courtyard balcony at about 6:30 a.m. PDT on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 with her feet bound, her hands tied behind her back, a blue T-shirt wrapped around her throat with parts of it in her mouth as a gag, with adhesive tape residue on her calves, and a fracture to her calvaria or skullcap bone indicating a possible blow to her head, at the historic Shacknai home, known as the Spreckels Mansion, located at 1043 Ocean Boulevard, in Coronado, CA.
An attached slide show and video clip also accompany this report.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, charged with investigating the case, at the request of the Coronado Police Department, under a mutual assistance agreement, announced at a Friday, September 2, 2011 media conference, that they had determined the cause of Ms. Zahau’s death to be suicide through asphyxiation by hanging.
That decision, which was criticized by the Zahau family, such independent forensic medical experts at Dr. Cyril Harrison Wecht, and other medical examiners, and the public at large, also unleashed a storm of controversy.
One fireman who works in Coronado whom we interviewed under conditions of anonymity, thought that the finding of suicide was based on “a balance between efficiency and effectiveness”, claiming that the City of Coronado’s police department was highly efficient, but not as effective in responding to high profile suspicious death incidents.
He also told us that Coronado wanted to protect its revenue sources that were highly dependent on tourism, that the County Sheriff’s office saw this as a “political hot potato”, and that both departments, because of political and other concerns, wanted the case closed and forgotten.
It now seemingly appears that Jonah Shacknai, whom Ms. Zahau’s family has referred to as “a stand up guy” also believes that the suicide finding is flawed.
We spoke with attorney Anne Bremner by telephone on Tuesday, September 13, from 12:35 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. PDT for her comments on these latest developments. Her answers are given below in bold type.
Ms. Bremner, can you give me your reaction to the Radar Online article?
“As we are representing the Zahau family and are in the process of making motions to have this investigation reopened, I am unable to comment directly at this time. However, I will agree that if Mr. Shacknai rejects the findings of suicide, then, by default, he may suspect that someone else might be involved.”
Thank you, I can understand your position. Please tell me what experts have come forward to assist you in your efforts.
“There has been an outpouring of support, from medical experts, scientists, handwriting analysts, the general public, and immediate offers of assistance from many individuals. We have formally added the following experts to our team:
Dr. Cyril Wecht, M.D., a noted pathologist, former medical examiner, and forensics expert who testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations as the lone dissenter on a nine member forensic pathology panel re-examining the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Dr. Wecht has publicly stated that he would have declared the cause of Ms. Zahau’s death as ‘undetermined, pending further investigation.’
Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, Ph.D., an internationally renowned forensic scientist, criminologist, and expert in DNA analysis, Chairman of the Science Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Dr. Maurice Godwin, Ph.D., an investigative psychologist who has experience in areas of criminal behavior, applied forensics and criminal investigations.
Dr. Lisa Boesky, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and a national expert on suicide.
Dr. Carol Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H., a forensic psychologist from Beverly Hills, and trial analyst on Court TV, CNN, Fox News and other media outlets.”
Why is it so important to have so many high powered experts look into this case?
“One reason is because this case was prematurely closed without a proper investigation. The local authorities in Coronado and San Diego County have not returned personal property belonging to Ms. Zahau, nor have they unsealed their original search warrant. That document is a public record, and should be available under a public records disclosure request upholding government transparency.”
What will it take to get this case reopened?
“Energy, time, efforts, expertise, and additional expenses.”
Thank you, Ms. Bremner. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you.
“Same here. Thanks for your interest.”
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