Rebecca Zahau's 2011 death in Coronado — suicide or murder — remains an issue of much public speculation.
Rebecca Zahau.

The family of Rebecca Zahau, whose bound body was found on the grounds of a historic Coronado mansion more than a decade ago, will petition authorities to reclassify her cause of death.

Investigators determined Zahau’s 2011 death to be a suicide, a conclusion Zahau’s family has vehemently contested over the years. Keith Greer, an attorney representing the family, made the announcement Thursday.

Greer said he will request that the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office change the cause of death to either homicide or undetermined. The petition will be served on the M.E.’s Office and Jonathan Lucas, who was the chief medical examiner at the time of Zahau’s death, the attorney said.

The nude body of Zahau, 32, was found on July 13, 2011 at her boyfriend’s beachfront summer home. She was gagged, with her ankles bound and her wrists tied behind her back beneath a bedroom balcony. Inside, there was a cryptic message scrawled on a door: “She saved him, can you save her.”

Adam Shacknai, the brother of Zahau’s boyfriend, told authorities that he found her body hanging by the neck above a rear courtyard and cut her down.

Though never criminally charged, Shacknai was found liable in her death by a San Diego civil jury, which awarded Zahau’s family more than $5 million in damages. Following a settlement via an insurance policy, the case was dismissed at Greer’s request.

Despite the civil victory, the family has continued to push for a criminal case to be filed and later announced it would offer a cash reward for anyone offering new information that could lead to Shacknai’s arrest and conviction.

Zahau’s family also sued the sheriff’s department for the release of its records in the death investigation, but that suit was dropped earlier this year.

City News Service and staff reports



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Ellen Bullock