On July 13, 2011, Adam Shacknai reportedly found Rebecca Zahau (also known as Rebecca Nalepa) hanging from a balcony at the home of her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai in Coronado, CA. He stated he cut her down, and immediately contacted authorities.
Ms. Zahau was found nude with her hands and feet bound, and a blue t-shirt was stuffed into her mouth.
Sadly and only two days before at the house, Jonah Shacknai's young son Max was severely injured after what appeared to be a fall from the home's second floor banister. Max passed away in the hospital on July 16.
With Ms. Zahau's death, police launched a comprehensive investigation.
The scene was secured and evidence was collected.
Precise measurements were recorded regarding the placement of the body, and other items related to the death scene.
Potential witnesses were identified and interviewed.
San Diego Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas performed an autopsy.
Forensic and toxicology tests were conducted.
Investigators analyzed phone records, reviewed messages, and conducted forensics on two computers found in the home.
And after about two months of investigating Ms. Zahau's death, officials from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department classified it as a suicide.
Ms. Zahau's family does not believe that their loved one took her own life. They maintain a website entitled Justice for Rebecca in the hope that new information on the case will be produced.
In the meantime, the family paid for a second autopsy to be conducted by distinguished pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. Wecht stated that he found evidence of blunt trauma to Ms. Zahua's head, and believes the death should be classified as undetermined.
This weekend, the family's attorney, Anne Bremner, announced that a computer forensics report produced for police as part of the investigation indicated that one of the computers found at the house contained evidence that Asian pornography including bondage had been viewed the day before Ms. Zahau's death.
The computer analysis also found no indication that Ms. Zahau had researched anything related to suicide prior to her death.
What does all of this mean?
Well, Sheriff Bill Gore is open to any new information. Investigators can then take possible leads and compare them with the detailed case files to see if they support or contradict what is believed to be true regarding the case.
What is the complete opposite of the comprehensive Rebecca Zahau investigation?
The case of Nikki LaDue January of course.
New information in the January case cannot be compared to Pass Christian Police's investigative file.
The file contains no autopsy report. No detailed measurements related to the locations of the body, the gun, shell casings, or bullet fragments.
No forensic or toxicology reports.
Not even the gun or other key pieces of evidence can be located for testing.
So, despite frustration with the results of the Rebecca Zahau investigation, the family can still hope that a fresh set of eyes from the State Attorney's Office would result in a different classification other than suicide.
For those wanting a fresh set of eyes for the Nikki LaDue January case, they know that a comprehensive case file does not exist.
That a classification change is only possible if the case is reopened--so that new information could be developed to compensate for what was not investigated previously.
All posts on the LaDue January case can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.
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