Rebecca Zahau and Nikki LaDue January

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.

Opposite indeed.

All posts on the LaDue January case can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.


A Doc 2 Be said...

Both are disturbing cases; and I doubt that either committed suicide.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I am so not sure about Rebecca Zahau and what I think happened there, it is hard to say for a lot of reasons. But, I'm glad she was afforded what Nikki wasn't: a proper investigation. Poor, poor Nikki wasn't given a chance.

The Blonde Duck said...

I don't think she killed herself.

Pat Hatt said...

Even if they were wrong makes it so much easier to find when they actually did their job. Totally opposite and proves even more what a botched half ***ed job they did on Nikki's case.

Carol Kilgore said...

I've wondered about both of those San Diego deaths since they made the news. It's good to know they did a proper investigation. I hope new evidence sheds a light on the true story.

Ciara said...

Both are disturbing. I want to know why any killer uses a home computer for research. I'm just thinking, haven't they heard of a computer forensics team?

Little Ms. Fun said...

This is awful! Both of these situations do not appear to be suicides. If you are going to commit suicide and hang yourself, would you stuff a shirt in the mouth and do it in the nude. Plus, how do you bound both your hands AND your feet and successfully hang your yourself. I hope both of these families get the justice they are looking for.

oceangirl said...

What Little Ms Fun wrote was exactly my thinking, how could suicide can ever be the outcome of the investigation.

Clarissa Draper said...

HOw does one kill themselves with their hands and feet bound?

Bob G. said...

This is a fantastic study is how to pursue the facts in a CORRECT manner versus a BOTCHED manner.

Grat comparisons here.
Shows how EFFECTIVE investigators CAN be.

Roll safe.

Brian Miller said...

ugh man...i dunno, these dont feel like suicide to me...and negligence on the part of authorities is nerve wracking..

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Why on earth would she bind her arms and legs and stuff a shirt in her mouth before hanging herself? That just doesn't make sense.

Christina Lee said...

I've been following this one (so sad about Max) so glad you are covering it!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

oh i actually remember hearing about the Zahau case. Sigh. I feel so bad for the families of both these women

Janet Johnson said...

So awful, both cases. Getting the evidence right is just so important!

Holly Lefevre said...

I just watched a special on Rebecca - it all seems very fishy - so many variables and oddities in her case. said...

Ms. Zahau was the girlfriend of a wealthy individual, died in a wealthy suburb or a large metropolitan area.

He family hired lawyers and a publicist.

Ms. January was not from wealth, lived in a modest area that was not a large metropolitan area. Her family could not hire lawyers and a publicist. :(

ladyfi said...

Oh gosh - too disturbing and tragic!

Maxi said...

In the Nikki LaDue case the gun under her thigh is a BIG problem for me.

The Rebecca Zahau "suicide;" women do not committ suicide this way.

Hilary said...

I watched a Dr. Phil show about Rebecca Zahau and according to their report, it sure doesn't appear to be suicide. There was very little mentioned about the child. Is foul play suspected there too?

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for all the comments.

@ Hilary: The belief is that he tripped over a toy or the dog and flipped over the railing.

The child's death was ruled accidental, but not all of the injuries that the boy had were explained convincingly.

@ Lisa, Clarissa, and LMF: Authorities knew that would be tough to explain, so they made a demonstration video, and showed folks how they believed once could do it.

GingerWale said...

Please take time to read, share and comment. Nom Holliston is actually interviewing many of the participants in Nikki's Case and life.

There are also so REAL interesting posts by a guy who calls himself logical minded engineer. It's a real good read and very informative!

Click Here to read more

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

The Investigation Into Nikki LaDue January’s Death-Botched From the Beginning

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

Why Would Nikki’s Best Friend Leave Her When She’s Need Most?

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

This is a doozy!
Another Friend of Nikki LaDue January’s Speaks Out

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

Phil January on his Relationship with Nikki and What He’s Done Since her Death

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

WOW you have to read this!!
Math = Murder!

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

“The Table and Chairs” by logical minded engineer

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

Phil January: I Support and Welcome the Re-opening of Nikki’s Case