Jonah Shacknai's Son Dies Days After Girlfriend Found Dead at Mansion


The six-year-old son of a California millionaire has died, just days after the man's girlfriend was found hanging from a balcony at his mansion.

This nightmare week for Jonah Shacknai, the CEO of Medicis Pharmaceuticals began last Monday, when his son Max fell down a flight of steps at his beachfront mansion in the tony San Diego neighborhood of Coronado. The boy had no pulse when he was found. He was taken to a local hospital where doctors were able to keep him alive.

Then on Wednesday, Shacknai's girlfriend, 32-year-old Rebecca Nalepa, was found hanging from a balcony at the house, with a rope around her neck and her arms and feet bound. Shacknai was not home at the time -- his brother found her.

And then on Sunday, the little boy succumbed to his injuries.

In a joint statement with his ex-wife, Shacknai said:

With great sadness, Dina and I convey the tragic passing of our beloved son, Max (affectionately known as Maxie). 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 forever be in our hearts and those whom he touched every day. The loss to our families, Max's many friends of all ages and teammates, and the community is immeasurable.

We appreciate your respecting the privacy of our families during this time of grieving for Max.  A private memorial service is being planned.

Memorial contributions honoring Max may be made to Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation either by mail to 9045 E. Pima Center Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 85258, or via their web site,

On behalf of Dina, myself and our families, please know of our appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support provided during this very difficult time.


Police have not established a link between the two deaths. They also have not determined whether Nalepa's death was a suicide or a murder.

"It appears to be some type of a violent death, and I'm not going to compromise the integrity of the investigation by giving anything more than that at this time," said Capt. Tim Curran, adding, "The circumstances are bizarre."

Police are questioning Shacknai and his brother. Neither are considered suspects, police say.

Max Shacknai:

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