Entries in Max Shacknai (3)


Mansion Deaths Highlight Owner's Turbulent Marriage

Stockbyte/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- The investigation into two deaths at the historic Spreckels Mansion has put a spotlight on the turbulent marriage of the mansion's owner, Jonah Shacknai, and the accusations of violence that surrounded the marriage.

Shacknai, the millionaire owner of a pharmaceutical company, recently lost his six-year-old son Max, who died Sunday of injuries suffered when he fell down the stairs at the mansion last week. His girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was found at the mansion last Wednesday with her hands bound behind her back, her ankles tied together, and a rope around her neck.

Autopsies are being conducted on both victims, and the San Diego sheriff's office said it's unclear if the two deaths are related. Police said that 15 detectives have been assigned to the investigation.

Despite the circumstances of Zahau's death, police say they still haven't ruled out suicide.

Shacknai was not home during either incident, police say, but the tragedies have brought a focus on his life.

Shacknai, 54, has been married twice. He divorced Kimberly Shacknai in 1993. His subsequent marriage to Max's mother, Dina Shacknai, also ended in divorce, with accusations on both sides of verbal and physical assault.

In Arizona police reports obtained this week by ABC News, Shacknai's ex-wife, Dina Shacknai, said she was "scared of what he is capable of doing to me physically…and the lengths he would go to try to 'destroy' me." Shacknai denied the allegations, telling police Dina had filed "false and misleading reports."

She told police she was attacked by her husband's German shepherd, just as she had been several times in the past. She gave police photos from 2006 showing cuts to her arms and knees from incidents during which Dina claimed the dog bit her because the dog is "very sensitive to changes in voice tone and body language and any tense exchange with Jonah may result in an attack response." She told police, however, that Jonah didn't command the dog to attack her.

Shacknai said his wife came at him and tried to choke him, according to the documents.

In January 2009, Dina Shacknai accused her husband of elbowing her in the breast. Shacknai told police he was trying to "nudge" her out of his car because she had reached for the ignition and tried to grab the steering wheel as he attempted to drive away. He also claimed he had been assaulted "several times" by his wife.

Jonah and Dina Shacknai sent out a statement earlier this week saying the records release "pains us greatly," especially now after losing their son.

"While our marriage did not work out as either of us had hoped, it did produce a wonderful son, Max, whom both of us loved very much," the statement read. "His loss is unimaginable. These police reports are not reflective of the totality or the precise details of the events during a difficult time in our marriage that we worked through together."

Shacknai is not considered a person of interest in the Zahau investigation. On Thursday, police confirmed Shacknai has left San Diego.

Police said it "could take weeks" for forensics and lab results on Zahau's death, just one element of the lengthy investigation to determine whether her death was a suicide.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Spreckels Mansion Hanging Wasn't a Suicide, Victim's Sister Tells ABC News

Stockbyte/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(CORONADO, Calif.) -- The sister of a woman allegedly found hanged at a millionaire's historic mansion has rejected suggestions that she could have committed suicide.

The body of Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found on the grounds of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, Calif., last Wednesday. Her hands and feet were bound.

Two days before Zahau's body was found, six-year-old Max Shacknai fell down the stairs at the mansion, which is owned by his father, pharmaceutical mogul Jonah Schaknai. The boy died of his injuries on Sunday.

Autopsies are being conducted on both bodies, and the San Diego sheriff's office said Tuesday it's unclear if the boy's injuries are related to Zahau's death.

"Our investigation would include Max's incident," San Diego sheriff spokesman Roy Frank told "As far as if they are related, that's something we are just going to have to wait and see."

Police also said they are trying to determine whether Zahau, who had been dating Jonah Shacknai for three years, committed suicide or was the victim of a homicide.

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

The sisters spoke the night before Zahau died, she said, and Rebecca talked about her plans for the following day.

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

Zahau and Shacknai seemed happy together, her sister said.

Authorities discovered Zahau's body at the mansion last Wednesday after Shacknai's brother Adam Shacknai told police he found her naked with a rope around her neck, hanging from a balcony off the main house. When police arrived they found Zahau on the back lawn, her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound. Adam Shacknai told police he had cut her down.

The fact that Zahau's hands were tied behind her back does not rule out suicide, police said. "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, Frank told ABC News.

Police said Max's autopsy is "routine for anyone who dies who isn't under the care of a doctor when the accident occurs," Coronado police spokesperson Lea Corbin told ABC News Tuesday.

Although Max died in a hospital under a doctor's care, Corbin said, "He was being cared for by a doctor, but we don't know why he died physically."

When Max fell on July 11, police received a call from a woman at the mansion who they would not identify, requesting medical aid for Max. Another person, a young female, was also present at the time of the accident, police said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Second Spreckels Mansion Death as Boy, 6, Dies from Injuries

Stockbyte/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(CORONADO, Calif.) -- Millionaire Jonah Shacknai, already grieving for his girlfriend who was found hanged in his California mansion last week, has said that his young son has died from injuries suffered in the mansion.

Max Shacknai, 6, was injured at the historic Spreckels mansion in Coronado, Calif., last Monday. He was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, and his death was announced Sunday.

Two days after Max was injured, Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was found dead, hanging naked from a balcony at the mansion.

Police are investigating whether Zahau's death was a murder or a suicide. During a press conference last week, San Diego Sheriff spokesman Tim Curran said the crime scene appeared "suspicious."

At the time they did not believe there was a connection between Zahau's death and Max's injuries.

Jonah Shacknai sent out a statement Sunday, asking for privacy as he and his ex-wife Dina, Max's mother, grieve for their son affectionately known as Maxie.

"Despite heroic efforts on the part of paramedics and hospital staff, he was unable to recover from the injuries suffered early last week. His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will forever be in our hearts and those whom he touched every day. The loss to our families, Max's many friends of all ages and teammates, and the community is immeasurable," he wrote.

The couple is planning a private memorial service, according to the statement, and they asked that any memorial contributions be made to Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation. The statement concludes: "On behalf of Dina, myself and our families, please know of our appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support provided during this very difficult time."

On July 11, police received a call from a woman at the mansion whom they would not identify requesting medical aid for Max.

The child "had fallen from stairs and was not breathing and did not have a pulse," Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon said last Thursday.

Paramedics performed CPR and the boy was hospitalized.

"At this time, we have no information that would lead us to believe this is anything other than a tragic accident with the child," Scanlon said.

In between the boy's accident and the discovery of Zahau's body, neighbors told ABC News affiliate KGTV, a loud party took place at the mansion on Tuesday night. However, police said last Thursday they were not aware of any parties.

Two days later, police received a call from Shacknai's brother, Adam Schacknai, that he found Zahau hanging from the balcony. When police arrived at the mansion they found the 32-year-old's body on the lawn in the backyard. Shacknai told them he had cut her down.

Police announced last week that an autopsy has been completed and they are still awaiting results from the forensics investigation and lab work.

Since 2007, the mansion has belonged Jonah Shacknai, the 54-year-old multimillionaire founder and CEO of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation in Scottsdale, Ariz., a company that makes treatments for acne and facial wrinkles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio