Entries in Mansion (5)


Picasso Piece Stolen from Illegal Party Mansion

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NOVATO, Calif.) -- A Pablo Picasso lithograph was among several high-priced items lifted from a vacant California mansion where 100 teens broke in and threw a party, police said.

The illegal party was thrown May 27 at a Novato, Calif., mansion owned by former Ukranian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko.

The next day, a caretaker noticed laptop computers, leather coats and silver candlesticks priced at $5,000 were missing from the 19,500-square-foot residence.

“They had gotten in and basically ransacked multiple rooms in the house,” Sgt. Eric Riddle of the Novato Police Department told the Marin Independent Journal.

The lithograph is worth an estimated $30,000.

The teens fled the home when police arrived. No arrests were made.

Lazarenko is currently serving a nine-year sentence in a California prison for money laundering, wire fraud and transporting stolen goods. The former prime minister was convicted in 2004 of stealing $114 million while in office.

Lazarenko owes Marin County $2 million in back taxes.

He is scheduled to be released on Nov. 1.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Project X’ Parties Busted in California Mansions

Ingram Publishing(NEW YORK) -- Police in Southern California have broken up at least three “Project X”-inspired parties in vacant multimillion dollars homes this month and are urging homeowners to be on the lookout for the illegal gatherings.

Inside a $5 million Rancho Santa De, Calif., mansion that had been left vacant, police found drugs, alcohol and a live DJ.  Many of the 400 teens at the party had heard about it through Twitter, police said.

“These parties are just hard to control. We are hoping that parents will help us. The teens just scatter and it’s a safety issue for the public and for them,” Lt. Kelly Martinez of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News’ San Diego affiliate.

Ever since the March 2 release of the movie “Project X,” authorities across the country have dealt with a rash of illegal gatherings thrown by teens striving to mimic the high school party movie. In the film, three teens take over a vacant home and throw a party for their classmates that soon spirals out of control.

A spring break rave in a Houston mansion last month that was meant to emulate the movie turned deadly after several attendees fired guns, killing Ryan Spikes, 18, as police tried to break up the party.

Spikes suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston police told

Earlier this month in Dewey, Ariz., 65 teens were detained after deputies busted a post-prom desert party inspired by the film. A teen boy was found lying unresponsive in the road and was taken to the hospital for severe intoxication, ABC 15 reported.

In response to the “Project X” copycat parties, Warner Bros., the studio that distributed the film, told ABC News in a statement:

“These incidents are deplorable and it goes without saying that “Project X” is a fictional movie and that Warner Bros. does not condone–and strongly discourages—anyone from attempting to imitate conduct portrayed by actors in a controlled environment during the filming of a motion picture.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boston Mansion Murders: Couple Gunned Down in Their Home

ABC News(ANDOVER, Mass.) -- Investigators are combing through the mansion of a prominent Boston-area real estate attorney and developer after he and his wife were found shot to death in their home, the victims of an apparent double homicide.

John Magee, 69, and Geraldine Magee, 67, were found dead at about 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, having been gunned down on the first floor of their sprawling estate in the affluent community of Andover, Mass.  They were discovered by their daughter.

The front door of the couple's home was found unlocked with the family dog still inside, according to police, and the couple's Lexus SUV was found torched 25 miles away, in Boston's North End, in an area that has come to be known for organized crime activity.

Police are still searching it for clues while reassuring residents that there is no cause for fear.  It was the first muder in the community in more than a decade.

"The incident appears to be an isolated act.  And the circumstances lead us to believe that there is no further threat to the Andover community," Andover Police Chief Brian Pattullo said, adding, "I don't want to give out any specifics that may compromise our investigation."

Investigators will not say whether there were signs of a robbery or a struggle in the home.  Police did say, however, that there was no history of trouble at the Magee residence.

By Wednesday night, authorities said they had not identified any suspects and have yet to establish a motive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Coronado Mansion Death Probe Becoming a Book?

Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center(CORONADO, Calif.) -- The lawyer representing the family of Rebecca Zahau, the dead woman found bound, naked and hanging from her boyfriend's mansion in Coronado, Calif., is working with a literary agent and may commission a true crime author to write a book about the case.

The news comes days after lawyer Anne Bremner confirmed that Zahau's family had exhumed her body and would be appearing on Dr. Phil in November to discuss a second autopsy, which was conducted by renown forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Jonah Shacknai, Zahau's boyfriend and owner of the Coronado mansion, declined to comment through his spokesman, Terry Fahn.  Shacknai has kept a low profile since Zahau's death, which came two days after his 6-year-old son Max toppled over a balcony railing at the top of a staircase at the mansion.  He died from injuries he suffered later that week.

ABC News affiliate KGTV reported Tuesday that Shacknai has sold the historic mansion to "an unidentified group of investors at an undisclosed sale price."

Bremner has a history of adapting her high profile cases into books, TV appearances, and most recently, a movie.  And Zahau's death, which sparked lurid headlines,"doesn't pass the smell test" according to Bremner.

Zahau's body was found bound and gagged with her hands tied behind her back hanging from a mansion balcony.  Her death was ruled a suicide by the San Diego Sheriff's Department, and Max's death was ruled an accident.

Zahau's family, however, doesn't believe she killed herself, and hired Bremner to spearhead efforts to get the investigation reopened.

The family and Bremner have established two websites about Rebecca Zahau, one of which solicits donations and is overseen by Sharlene Martin, a literary manager from Martin Literary Management in Seattle.

Martin told ABC News there is no Zahau book currently in the works, but if there was her agency would handle it.

Ann Rule, the author of 32 non-fiction books about homicide and other crimes, told ABC News that she recently met with Bremner and during dinner they discussed the possibility of writing a book about the Zahaus.

Rule, who said she has been a close friend of Bremner for 25 years, noted Martin's involvement in the family website "seems really odd" and that she's "never heard of such a thing."

The probability of writing a book about the Zahaus, however, is about "50/50 -- if charges were brought," she said.  "It's a difficult thing because the little boy's father is very, very wealthy so for legal reasons it's kind of a mine field."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Calif. Mansion Death Ruled Suicide; Sister Doesn't Buy It

Jonah Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau had a happy relationship of nearly three years according to Zahau's sister. Zahau was found dead at Shacknai's home in Coronado, Calif., on July 13. Police have not yet ruled out suicide. (ABC News)(LOS ANGELES) -- Investigators have concluded that a woman found hanged, bound and naked at a California millionaire's historic mansion took her own life, the dead woman's sister told ABC News.

Mary Zahau-Loehner said Friday police notified her Wednesday that they had ruled her sister's death a suicide, ending a six-week investigation. But Zahau-Loehner isn't buying the suicide ruling.

The body of Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found on the grounds of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, Calif., July 13. When police arrived they found Zahau on the back lawn, her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound.

"Their main reason is saying that they did not see any signs of struggle or physical injury that would show there's foul play," Zahau-Loehner said.

In addition, police reportedly told Zahau-Loehner they found two undated "notes" on Zahau's phone about her boyfriend, "but these were written several months ago and doesn't discuss anything about her being depressed or fed up with life or anything like that," she said. "That was their other basis -- saying it doesn't seem her life was in order. That upset me because they do not know Becky … you mean to tell me from two writings they're going to conclude, 'Oh, she must be really depressed.'"

Zahau's sister, a nurse practitioner who said she spoke to her sister almost every day, told ABC News Zahau had no psychiatric history, and had never taken anti-depressants or attempted suicide.

The notes on Zahau's phone didn't appear to have been sent to anyone, but referenced an "argument" she had with her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, the 54-year-old multimillionaire founder and CEO of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation in Scottsdale, Ariz., who has owned the mansion since 2007.

His brother and houseguest Adam Shacknai may have been the last person to see Zahau alive.

Adam Shacknai told police he had cut Zahau down from the balcony after he found her hanging.

"We have had other cases in the past where people have used creative ways to commit suicide" including people whose hands were tied behind their back, San Diego sheriff spokesman Roy Frank told ABC News in July.

For nearly two months, Zahau's mysterious death made headlines across the nation. And as time passed, Zahau's family and friends struggled to understand why police had not ruled out suicide.

"Rebecca was a beautiful, vibrant, loving and kind person and she would never do this to herself," Zahau-Loehner told ABC News in July.

Zahau and Shacknai, who had been together for more than two years, seemed happy together, she said. Zahau-Loehner also told ABC News on Friday that she had spoken to her sister the night before she died, and talked about her plans for the following day.

Two days before Zahau's body was found, 6-year-old Max Shacknai, Jonah Shacknai's son, fell down the stairs at the mansion.

"She was going to call mom and dad the next morning and text me throughout the day with updates on Max," Zahau-Loehner said at the time. "She was very hopeful. She had to be strong and there for Jonah."

Zahau, a former ophthalmic technician, performed CPR on Max and asked her younger sister, who was also there at the time, to call 911, Zahau-Loehner told ABC News. Paramedics also performed CPR, but Max "was not breathing and did not have a pulse," Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon told reporters in July.

Zahau had been planning to take food and clothes to Shacknai after Max's accident because he was staying in the hospital with his son, Zahau-Loehner said. "And she asked me to tell mom that she's going to call."

The boy died of his injuries July 17.

Investigators told Zahau-Loehner recently Max's death was ruled an accident.

Zahau reportedly had a close relationship with Max.

"At first I thought she might be his mother," Zahau's former personal trainer, Scott Markey, told ABC News. "They seemed like they were very happy. She was always smiling with him. They had a very good relationship."

Zahau-Loehner said her family has hired Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, who told USA Today the San Diego Sheriff's Department's finding was "ridiculous" and "doesn't pass the smell test."

Bremner could not be immediately reached for comment.

Zahau-Loehner said the family will request that police look further into her sister's death and not rush into any conclusions.

"I do not want my sister's death to be ruled a suicide just because you don't have enough evidence to rule a homicide," she said. "Nothing adds up."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio