Television host Phillip Calvin McGraw, better known to his millions of viewers as “Dr. Phil” on a syndicated program produced by Harpo Studios, owned by Oprah Winfrey, allegedly has agreed to sponsor and fund the exhumation and forensic reexamination of the remains of Rebecca Zahau, accorded to reports published on Monday, October 24, 2011 by KGTV 10News San Diego, Radar Online, the Daily Mail, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and other media sources.
The 32-year-old woman’s bound and gagged body was found hanging from an inner courtyard balcony of the seaside mansion of pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai located at 1043 Ocean Boulevard in Coronado, CA on Wednesday, July 13, 2011, as seen in the attached slide show.
There is also a video clip of Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey which accompany this report.
While Ms. Zahau’s body has been laid to rest at a funeral near Saint Joseph, MO on Sunday, July 24, 2011, which Mr. Shacknai attended, and at which he allegedly told other mourners that he did not believe his girlfriend had killed herself, the Zahau family and many in the public who have followed this bizarre case, have never accepted the official police findings of suicide announced on Friday, September 2, 2011 before the long Labor Day weekend by San Diego County Sheriff and former FBI Special Agent Bill Gore.
The intervention of Dr. Phil, who reportedly earned $80 million in 2009 according to an article in Forbes Magazine as a television entertainer, author, and top 100 A-list celebrity, has come as a surprise even to some members of the Zahau family, including Ms. Zahau’s sister Mary Zahau-Loehner, who referred a KGTV reporter to the family’s attorney Anne Bremner of Seattle, WA.
Ms. Bremner, who was also active as a “Friends of Amanda” in providing legal advice in the successful appeal trial of Amanda Knox, who recently had her murder conviction overturned and was released from an Italian jail, has put together a dream team of about a dozen criminologists and forensic experts to press for an independent investigation of the Zahau case by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
We contacted Ms. Bremner for her comments on this latest development, and will report such information whenever she relies to our inquiries.
According to Radar Online which broke the story of Dr. Phil’s involvement, the TV host wants Rebecca’s body exhumed from her Missouri grave and retested for any evidence of foul play. The results of the procedure will be presented on his TV show in November during the Nielsen Media Research ratings sweeps, electronic audience metering that occur 4 times each year.
The next sweeps period is from October 27 to November 23, 2011.
Some skeptics are already complaining that the new media interest is more about maximizing TV viewers than gathering forensic evidence, and reopening a criminal investigation.
Ms. Bremner, together with her own investigators and criminologists, is in the process of compiling a motion based upon legal points and authorities that challenge the official findings of suicide and make a compelling argument for investigating a homicide, based on an analysis of cell phone logs, anomalies in the original physical evidence analysis, independent witness reports of screams coming from the Shacknai residence on the morning of July 13, and the fact that Ms. Zahau’s body was found bound and gagged, with tape residue on her legs, and various suspicious bruises to her head and elsewhere on her body.
As Bremner previous wrote to Attorney General Harris on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, “We have significant and compelling information, analysis and crucial and pivotal facts to share. We have also retained nearly ten unimpeachable experts who with ample basis challenge the finding of suicide. We also have new compelling evidence to be investigated and new critical witnesses to be interviewed.”
Some of those “unimpeachable experts” mentioned above include Dr. Cyril Wecht, M.D., a noted pathologist, and former medical examiner; Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, Ph.D., a forensic scientist, criminologist, and expert in DNA analysis; 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; and Dr. Carol Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H., a forensic psychologist from Beverly Hills, CA, and trial analyst on Court TV, CNN, Fox News Channel and other media outlets.
The addition of Dr. Phil McGraw to this already high powered mix shines an even brighter spotlight on this case.
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