'Bizarre' Set of Deaths at CEO's Mansion Stumps Cops

No connection yet found between deaths of Rebecca Nalepa, Max Shacknai
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2011 7:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – Police are baffled by the "bizarre" circumstances behind the death of Rebecca Nalepa, the 32-year-old girlfriend of pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai: She was found hanging at his mansion two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son fell down the stairs there; Max died on Sunday. A sergeant says of Nalepa's death, "sometimes homicides and suicides can look very similar. I think this is one of those cases where the forensics will determine the case." No direct connection has yet been found between the two deaths, but the sergeant adds that they are being investigated "in their totality," including the possibility of a connection.

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The Los Angeles Times reports that people are being interviewed about Nalepa's last days, including Shacknai's brother, Adam, who found her and cut her down from the balcony she was hanging from. A second search warrant was executed on the mansion last week after new information was obtained in the investigation, and autopsies on both victims are complete but no results have been released. While there are no suspects in Nalepa's death, a top criminal defense attorney has been hired to represent someone; his client is not known. Meanwhile, the Arizona Republic digs up dirt on Shacknai and his ex-wife Dina, Max's mother, who divorced in January after a number of allegedly violent encounters; both have accused each other of getting physical. (Read more Jonah Shacknai stories.)

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