The Mysterious Death of Rebecca Zahau

The death of Rebecca Zahau is complex from every angle. From the days before her death, to the manner of her death, there are more questions than answers. Rebecca’s death is still a mystery to this day. What really happened the day she died? Was her death a suicide or is someone else to blame?

Early Life

Rebecca Zahau was born March 15, 1979 in Falam, Chin State. She traveled all around the world and eventually settled in the United States. While there, she built a career as an ophthalmic technician. She met a man through her work, Jonah Shacknai. He was the CEO of a pharmaceutical company. She decided to leave her job and move in with Jonah, who had three kids from previous marriages. The couple lived together in a mansion in Coronado, California.


Rebecca didn’t get along very well with his older two children. They were teenagers who reportedly resented their father’s new girlfriend. However, Rebecca was often in charge of taking care of six year old Max. She adored the child, and they were close.

Life seemed to be going pretty well for Rebecca until July 11, 2011. Rebecca was taking care of Max as usual. While she was in the bathroom, she heard a crash from the other room. Rebecca discovered Max laying on the floor by the stairs. Based on how he was found, he most likely was riding his scooter and fell over the balcony. He was seriously hurt. Max was admitted to the hospital with life threatening injuries. Rebecca was reportedly very distraught over Max’s injuries.

An Unlikely Death

Because of Max’s hospitalization, Adam Shacknai, Jonah’s brother was staying at the couple’s house in Coronado. On July 13, 2011, Adam placed a call to 9-1-1 stating he found Rebecca’s body. She was hanging off her balcony, naked and tied up. There was also a message written on her bedroom door. It stated, “She saved him can you save her.”

While authorities claimed it was a suicide, Rebecca’s family remained adamant she never would have killed herself. Even with Max’s hospitalization, she never would have done that. However, her DNA was the only DNA on the ropes that bound her and the knife that cut the rope. Adam was the only other person in the house at the time of her death.

On July 16, 2011, Max succumbed to his injuries.


A few weeks after her death, her death was officially ruled a suicide. She was 32 years old at the time of her death.

The family of Rebecca Zahau were insistent that Adam Shacknai had something to do with her death. In the beginning, they were also suspicious of Dina Shacknai, Max’s mother. They wondered if Dina and her twin sister may have plotted against Rebecca in retaliation for Max’s accident. However, Dina and her sister were both cleared when they were seen on hospital surveillance footage.

Most of the evidence could be explained by a suicide. A very odd and unusual suicide. However, Rebecca’s autopsy showed trauma to her head that is not explained by a suicide attempt. How did she get those head wounds? It seems like something someone would inflict on someone rather than something she could do to herself.

In 2018, the Rebecca’s family took Adam to civil court. He was found liable, 9-3, in Rebecca’s death. This was overturned in February of 2019 when the family of Rebecca settled with insurers for $600,000. The family is still working today to prove Rebecca did not commit suicide.

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