Max Shacknai, the six-year-old son of a millionaire pharmaceutical executive, died of injuries he suffered in a fall at his father's California mansion a week ago, while the mystery surrounding the death of the little boy's baby sitter, who was also his father's girl friend, deepened.
Max had fallen from a staircase at the Spreckels mansion in Coronado on Monday. Police had said it was a case of tragic accident.
Medicis Pharmaceuticals chairman and chief executive Jonah Shacknai, the boy's father, announced the boy's passing away in a statement.
Despite heroic efforts on the part of paramedics and hospital staff, he was unable to recover from the injuries suffered early last week. His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will be forever in our hearts and those whom he touched every day, Shacknai said in a joint statement with ex-wife and Max's mother Dina Romano.
When paramedics found the boy on last Monday he was not breathing and did not have pulse.
Two days after the boy's fall, Shacknai's 32-year-old girlfriend was found dead in a bizarre fashion at the mansion. Shacknai's brother, who was staying at the mansion, found her hanging from a second-storey balcony. She was nude and her hands and feet were bound with electric wires.
Shacknai was reportedly not at home at the time of the death of his girl friend Rebeccca Nalepa, who is of Burmese origin. She had been dating Shacknai for the last two years, and little Max had been under her care when he had the fatal fall.
An autopsy of Nalepa's body was completed, but police have refused to divulge the findings. It is not clearly established whether her bizarre death was a suicide or murder.
Deepening the mystery surrounding her death, it emerged that a party had been held at the mansion on Tuesday, a day after Max's fatal fall. The following night Nalepa died in mysterious surroundings.
Shacknai's brother Adam was staying at a guest house on the property at the time of Nalepa's death. He reportedly cut the cords to bring her down and save her life, before calling up police. Emergency crews tried to resuscitate her, but she was later reported dead at the scene.
Tim Curran, an official with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, said the circumstances of Nalepa's death were suspicious. He said the woman died a violent death and though suicide was a possibility the circumstances were bizarre.
Police haven't zeroed in on any suspect so far, but the Shacknais and Dina Romano are being interrogated as witnesses.
Adding fuel to a murder theory, a friend of Nalepa told ABC news that the 32-year-old was a survivor and was unlikely to commit suicide, especially after baring her body.
There were also public statements defending Shacknai. According to Nalepa's brother-in-law, Shacknai was devoted to her while Nalepa treated Max as her own child.