Zahau's second autopsy results raise questions


by Marie Saavedra, 3TV

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 6:12 PM

HOLLYWOOD, Ca. -- Rebecca Zahau's family desperately wanted a second autopsy after her death was ruled a suicide. Tuesday, the Dr. Phil show aired the results of that second look.

Zahau was found hanging in a beachfront mansion owned by her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai.  Shacknai is chairman and CEO of Scottsdale-based Medicis Pharmaceuticals.

For Rebecca Zahau's family, the emotional pain of exhuming her body, and a second autopsy was worth it, just to hear a well known forensic pathologist say this:

"I lean very strongly toward it being a homicide, something involving foul play, and I lean very strongly against a suicide," said Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Dr. Wecht performed the autopsy in partnership with the Dr. Phil show. And he agreed with Zahau's sister Mary, that many questions went unanswered.

"The phrase rush to judgment is the best, the most concise that can be applied here. What was the hurry?" said Dr. Wecht.

First, what's the explanation behind Rebecca's head injuries?

"I would like to hear from them how you get four separate impacts to the top of the head in a vertical hanging," said Dr. Wecht.

And why is her neck not injured the way it should be from hanging?

"The cervical vertebrae would have been fractured or dislocated, separated from each other or from the base of the skull. That was not present as found in the original autopsy or by me," Dr. Wecht said.

It's enough for the family to demand a new investigation. That's something San Diego investigators are open to, but in a statement to 3TV said  "To date, neither our detectives nor the medical examiner's office have been presented with any evidence from this second autopsy. We would be glad to meet with them, rather than hear their results on television provided as entertainment.'

Still, Zahau's sister says the search for justice isn't for show.

"She shouldn't be dead. She should be here with us," said Mary Zahau-Loehner.