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Spreckels Mansion Case: Rebecca Zahau Buried As Police Search For Answers At Jonah Shacknai's Home

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REBECCA ZAHAU BURIED
Rebecca Zahau | AP

Rebecca Zahau was laid to rest Saturday, ten days after she was found naked and bound in the courtyard of the historic Southern California mansion owned by her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai.

Zahau's death came just two days after her boyfriend's son, Max, apparently tumbled down a staircase in the palatial home.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, police tell HuffPost Crime that the bizarre events at pharmaceutical exec Shacknai's home are still shrouded in mystery.

"I'm hopeful that the evidence is going to go ahead and tell us the story," San Diego County Sheriff's Sgt. Roy Frank told HuffPost Crime, adding that a toxicology report may shed some light on the exact nature of Zahau's dramatic death. "I think it's more weeks than days, but we're hopeful that we can get it done as quickly as possible."

In the early morning hours of July 13, 32-year-old Zahau was discovered hanging from a second floor balcony of the famous Spreckels Mansion, a 108-year-old Coronado, Calif., home Shacknai bought in 2007.

Her hands were bound behind her back and her legs tied, police said.

Zahau had been home with Shacknai's son Max and an unidentified 13-year-old girl when the boy tumbled to his death. He was still in a coma at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego when Zahau's body was discovered by Jonah's brother Adam Shacknai, news sources reported.

Coronado police believe Max's death was "a tragic accident," spokeswoman Lea Corbin told HuffPost Crime. But exactly how Zahau died -- as well as details surrounding the final hours of her life -- remains a mystery, and could stay unknown for weeks, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Office.

Among the mysteries police are working to solve: whether Zahau, who was reported to have been athletic but who walked with a pronounced limp, could have managed to hang herself with all four limbs tied and her hands bound behind her back.

"Number one is if it's even possible for a person to do that," Frank said.

Criminologists will also work to determine whether something -- possibly Max's fatal fall -- could have prompted Zahau to take her own life, a possibility her family has vehemently denied.

"Obviously the investigation is not complete yet, but as far as what I know about my sister, my sister did not commit a suicide," Zahau's sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner said in a statement to San Diego station KFMB-TV. "My sister was not depressed, my sister was not frantic, my sister was planning to call my parents the next day and was planning to keep me posted about Max the next day."

She was to be buried Saturday in her native home of Myanmar, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"There are no words in any dictionary or language to describe the full beauty, love, compassion, selflessness, generosity, and kindness of Rebecca," The Zahau family said in a statement. "Her Zahau name was "HNIANGSINMAWII" meaning "SPRINGTIME BEAUTY" and yet she was the beauty of every season. If you had met Rebecca, you could not help but love her."

Two Deaths, Days Apart, At California Mansion
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In the days following Zahau's death, police in Paradise Valley, Ariz., released documents related to Shacknai's divorce from Max's mother Dina, including several photos of injuries Dina told police she received from Shacknai's German shepherd.

"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," the former couple said in a statement. "The unfortunate attention to these records is a distraction from the most important concern of honoring our beautiful son, who lives on in both of our hearts."

Though he could not comment specifically on the sheriff's office's early findings, Frank said that any evidence pointing to domestic violence in Zahau's case would be included in the ongoing investigation into her death.

"This is one of those cases that you really do have to look at the evidence, the witness statements, issues that may have been going on in a person's life," he said. "We're still processing evidence and doing additional interviews as needed."

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