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2nd Zahau autopsy reveals no new information

Justice SystemPhil McGrawRebecca ZahauMusic

SAN DIEGO -- A second day on the Dr. Phil Show provided few new details on the mysterious death of a woman inside the Coronado Spreckels Mansion.

The family of 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau refused to believe the Sheriff's Department determination that she killed herself while staying at the mansion with her boyfriend, Arizona pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai.

Zahau was found hanging naked from a balcony on July 13th by her boyfriend's brother.  Two days earlier, her boyfriend's 6-year-old son was fatally injured while Zahau was caring for him. 

Detectives said Zahau was guilt-ridden over the impending death and took her own life.

Looking for answers, the Zahau family sought the advice of Dr. Cyril Wecht, a well-known forensic pathologist.

After exhuming Rebecca's body, Dr. Wecht performed a second autopsy.  The results were revealed on Dr. Phil Show Tuesday.

"The autopsy itself was thorough," Wecht explained on the show. "I have no problem with the post-mortem examination.  It's the findings that were there, and some that were not there, that puzzled me."

The Zahau family hoped another examination would provide answers.

"We believe that there were more things that were overlooked," said Mary Zahau, Rebecca's sister. "We believe we would find out more things that weren't mentioned to us or even looked into."

In the end, Dr. Wecht reiterated earlier comments over hemorrhaging on Rebecca Zahau's head, which he expressed concerns about.  He proposed she could have been knocked unconscious with a blunt object prior to her death. He also wondered why there were not more injuries to her neck from falling off the balcony.

Dr. Wecht said Zahau's death should be classified as "undetermined" so the investigation can continue.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department maintains it will not reopen the case without new information. On Monday, it said it would be glad to meet with the family on the second autopsy, "rather than hear their results on television provided as entertainment."

"No new information has been provided by this second autopsy," Sheriff Bill Gore said in a written statement issued in response to Tuesday's broadcast. "This is nothing more than sensationalism at its lowest oint and the family is only enduring more suffering from this insensitivity."

The department has refused to release investigation reports that have been given to the family.

Zahau family attorney Anne Bremner plans to ask the Attorney General's office to investigate the case.  An earlier request by Jonah Shacknai's attorney was denied.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Justice SystemPhil McGrawRebecca ZahauMusic