Questions Raised in Rebecca Zahau's "Suicide"

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

The bizarre death of a woman at her millionaire boyfriend's California mansion has officially been ruled a suicide, but now a forensics expert is raising questions about that ruling.

On July 13 Rebecca Zahau was found hanging nude from a balcony at the San Diego-area mansion of pharmaceuticals CEO Jonah Shacknai. Her arms and legs were loosely bound, a noose around her neck.

Last Friday officials in San Diego said that Zahau killed herself, that she was distraught over injuries suffered by Shacknai's son during a fall while he was in her care a few days earlier. The six-year-old boy died a few days after Zahau's body was found. The officials announced that they were closing the case.

But Zahau's relatives don't believe she killed herself and want the case reopened. They have hired an attorney who retained famed forensics expert Dr. Cyril Wecht to look over the reports.

"I'm not saying this is a homicide," Wecht told the New York Daily News. "I don't want to be premature or make wild criticisms. But I would not have signed this out so quickly as a suicide. I have a lot of unanswered questions."

Those questions include the message "She Saved Him Can You Save Her" painted on the door leading to the balcony, according to San Diego's CBS 8, which obtained the autopsy report.

"I don't understand why she would use the pronoun 'she' in the (painted) message," Wecht said.

The autopsy report also said Zahau had four injuries -- under her scalp, tape residue and bruising on her legs and part of a shirt stuffed in her mouth as a gag.

"Let's say she fell when she was cut down. You don't get four anatomically separate hemorrhages. Your head is contoured, and these are caused by direct trauma. I just don't understand," said Wecht, adding, "And what about the tape marks on the legs? If she was going to first tape her legs but later said this isn't working, where's the tape?"

San Diego police said there were no signs of foul play and the only fingerprints and DNA found on the rope and knife used to cut it came from Zahau.