Rebecca Zahau's family wants case reopened in wake of new autopsy details

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on September 6, 2011 at 7:55 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 6 at 8:48 AM

SAN DIEGO – Even though the death of Rebecca Zahau has been ruled a suicide, her family is disputing the finding and asking for the investigation to be re-opened.

Zahau's naked body, ankles and wrists bound, was found hanging from the balcony of the Coronado mansion belonging to her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai , chairman and chief executive Scottsdale-based Medicis Pharmaceuticals.

An attorney representing Zahau’s family reportedly leaked new details from the autopsy report.

Those revelations included the fact that there were hemorrhages under Zahau’s scalp, as well as duct tape residue and blood on her legs. In addition, a T-shirt that had been wrapped around the 32-year-old’s neck was partially stuffed in her mouth.

None of that information from the autopsy report was released during last week’s news conference in which San Diego investigators announced that they had closed the case, convinced that Zahau’s death was suicide.

Such a suicide, said attorney Anne Bremner, is unprecedented.

“There’s never been a suicide like this in history -- of a woman, naked, binding her own hands behind her back, [binding] her feet, and throwing herself over a balcony,” she said. “Never.”

None of that information from the autopsy report was released during last week’s news conference in which San Diego investigators announced that they had closed the case.

In addition to the manner of Zahau’s death and the new information from the autopsy report, Bremner says a message painted on a bedroom door near where Zahau was found is inconsistent with suicide.

That message reportedly read, "She saved him can you save her?"

The meaning of that note remains a mystery, but Bremner said she and Zahau’s family know what it’s not.

“That note that’s on the wall, on the door, is not a suicide note, and it’s not in her handwriting,” Bremner said.

Zahau's death came just two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, fell down the stairs at the mansion. The little boy later died of his injuries. His death was ruled an accident.

Investigators questioned Zahau's mental state in the days and weeks leading up to her death.

Zahau’s sister, however, said Zahau had no history of psychiatric issues, had never taken antidepressants, had never talked about harming herself and certainly had never tried to kill herself.

The family is asking detectives to re-open the investigation into Zahau's death.

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