The family of Rebecca Zahau, the California woman whose death was ruled a suicide after being found nude and hanging from the balcony of her boyfriend’s mansion, has filed a wrongful death suit against the boyfriend’s family, contending that the 32-year-old was murdered.
The boyfriend, multimillionaire Medicis founder and CEO Jonah Shacknai, wasn't named in the wrongful death suit, Radar Online reported on Monday, without citing a reason. The suit was filed against Shacknai’s ex-wife, Dina, Dina’s twin sister Nina Romana and Shacknai’s brother, Adam Shacknai.
Zahau’s family filed the suit because they believed it was the only way to get to the truth about her death, according to Radar Online. The family had been skeptical ever since a medical examiner ruled Zahau’s death as suicide in July 20111.
The family “had no other choice but to file the lawsuit because it was the only way in which they could ever get answers about how Rebecca died. They don’t accept or believe that Rebecca killed herself,” a source told Radar Online. “Nothing will stop the family from getting to the bottom of how their beloved Rebecca died.”
The wrongful death suit, filed Friday in federal court in San Diego, claims that the parties listed in the legal action were somehow involved in Zahau’s “murder” or participated in covering up the killing.
“On July 13, 2011, Rebecca Zahau was found dead, naked, bound and gaged, with a rope noose around her neck. Her cause of death was strangulation, which was caused by either manual strangulation before she was hung, or from being hung with a rope noose around her neck from the second story deck of the Coronado vacation home at which she was staying. The Coroner for the County of San Diego determined that she died on that date. Each of the Defendants named herein participated in some manner in the planning, implementation, execution and subsequent concealment to murder Rebecca Zahau,” the court papers alleged.
The Zahau family is seeking $10 million in damages. The suit also accused the three parties of “threatening to attack, choke, gag, bound and hang [Zhang] on the premises” of Shacknai’s mansion in Coronada, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reported.
Zahau was living at the mansion with Shacknai and his 6-year-old son, Max. Max died from a fall two days after Zhou was found naked, bound and hanging from Shacknai’s balcony in the Spreckles Mansion. Zahau had been caring for Max when he fell and suffered the injuries that later led to his death, according to the Times. The boy’s death was ruled an accident.
The lawsuit challenges the determinations of the medical examiner, Coronado Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, which all indicated that Zahau’s death was a homicide.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said at the time of Zahau’s death that the circumstances of her death were unusual but not “unprecedented” for suicides, the Times reported.
Zahau’s body was found by Adam Shacknai, who was living at the mansion at the time, according to ABC News. He told police that he discovered Zahau hanging naked from the balcony off the main house of the mansion with a rope around her neck.
The lawsuit was filed a day before the two-year anniversary of Zahau’s death.