Lawsuit: Mansion Hanging Death Was Murder
Family alleges conspiracy to kill Rebecca Zahau
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 15, 2013 3:26 AM CDT
This August 2008 photo shows Rebecca Zahau.    (AP Photo/Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center, Dwight Smith)

(Newser) – The family of a woman whose nude, bound body was found hanging at a California mansion has filed a $10 million lawsuit claiming she was murdered. The complaint filed in federal court by the family of 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau seeks general and punitive damages. Zahau was found hanged at a Coronado mansion belonging to her boyfriend, pharmaceuticals tycoon Jonah Shacknai in July 2011. Her death was ruled a suicide and authorities said she killed herself because she was distraught over a fatal fall that Shacknai's 6-year-old son suffered at the house two days earlier.

But Zahau's family always believed her death was suspicious. The lawsuit claims Shacknai's brother and ex-wife, Adam Shacknai and Dina Shacknai, and Dina Shacknai's twin sister, Nina Romano, were responsible for the woman's death. The lawsuit doesn't provide any specific evidence against the three, but alleges "defendants planned and prepared to batter and murder Rebecca and did thereafter brutally, and with malice aforethought, stalk, attack, choke, bound and hang" Zahau at the mansion belonging to her billionaire boyfriend. Jonah Shacknai was not named in the lawsuit.

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Jul 16, 2013 3:50 PM CDT
The Catholic Jesuit organization, headquartered in Los Gatos, California, paid more than $1 million regarding the alleged wrongful death of James Chevedden, an alum of Loyola High School, Los Angeles. The Jesuits claimed that Chevedden’s suspicious death was a suicide. This was under Thomas Smolich, who is now the highest-ranking USA Jesuit. The $1 million amount may be more significant because the San Jose police barely investigated Chevedden’s suspicious death and the Jesuits have a lot of money to spend on lawyers.
Jul 15, 2013 10:30 PM CDT
I wonder if the relatives were afraid of the billionaire's girlfriend getting her hands on his money so they offed her
Jul 15, 2013 6:56 PM CDT
This woman's death has bothered me from the get go. Her hands were tied behind her back, and her feet were bound. She was found hanging naked from a second floor balcony railing. How did she get a noose around her own neck, tie her hands behind her back, hop? to the railing, and hurtle herself over it? Naked. The only way her family will see justice is if they hire their own hit man to avenge her murder.