Dina Shacknai launches non-profit in son's name


by Kristine Harrington


Posted on July 16, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 16 at 6:41 PM

PHOENIX -- Her son’s death, and later the suicide of her ex husband’s girlfriend in their Coronado mansion, made headlines around the world. 

Now, one year later, Dr. Dina Shacknai, Ph.D., says she has started a foundation in her son's name hoping to prevent this sort of tragedy from happening to another family.

“My life's work has been with children and even with my resources and knowledge I was unable to prevent this tragedy,” said Shacknai.

It was one year ago when six-year-old Max Shacknai died after falling from a staircase inside the historic Spreckles mansion in Coronado. He was under the care of his dad's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, who police say killed herself out of guilt two days later.

“Some info Rebecca provided me at the time was inaccurate such as her current legal last name and the fact she had a previous criminal record,” said Dina. “While I requested Max never be left alone with Rebecca, I did finally concede and asked that Max not be left alone with Rebecca if she was with any of her family members and as we know this was the case the day of my son's death.”

As a result, this grieving mom has launched a nonprofit foundation in her son's name, Maxie's H.O.U.S.E. (Hope, Outreach Understanding, Safety, Education). 

“Maxie's House will focus on the protection and safety of children from blended families regardless of which parent of caregiver they are with,” said Dina.

This foundation gives Dina hope other families won't suffer the way hers has because she believes her son's death could have been prevented and she still has questions as to what really happened that fateful day.

“Based on our experts and their findings we are confident the scenario put forth by the Coronado Police is inaccurate on how Maxie's injuries occurred,” said attorney Angela Hallier.
They're asking the Coronado Police Department to reopen its investigation into his death.

Meantime, Rebecca Zahau's family attorney also has questions regarding her death.

“It is our belief if nothing happened to Max then nothing would have happened to Rebecca either,” said attorney Martin Rudoy.

That's the reason they want her death investigation reopened, they're adamant she didn't kill herself.

“With respect to Rebecca, we're confident the killers will be found,” said Rudoy.

Both the Shacknai’s and the Zahau’s would like to see both death investigations re-opened. Already, the California Attorney General is looking into the Zahau case.

Jonah Shacknai did not respond to 3TV's request for comment, but recently announced the creation of MaxInMotion, a nonprofit foundation that is helping underprivileged children in Arizona through youth sports programs.