Arizona Millionaire's Ex-Wife Accused in Elaborate Murder Plot
The nearly 13,000-square-foot Coronado, California, home where Max Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau died in 2011.
The official investigations into the deaths of medical-sector executive Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend and young son have long been over, but not everything is settled.
According to authorities, 6-year-old Max Shacknai died from an accident under the care of his father's girlfriend at his Coronado, California, mansion in 2011. Rebecca Zahau, the girlfriend of former Medicis Pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai, committed suicide at the house two days later.
Both outcomes have been heavily disputed, but now, a lawsuit is going forward against Jonah Shacknai's ex-wife, Dina Shacknai, and two others, accusing them of an elaborate plot to murder Zahau.
The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Zahau's family, and it accuses Jonah Shacknai's brother Adam Shacknai, Dina Shacknai, and her sister Nina Romero of conspiring to kill Zahau and stage it as a suicide.
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This lawsuit has been ongoing for more than a year, but previously had been dismissed by a federal judge in Southern California. This most recent version of the lawsuit outlines the entire plot as alleged by Zahau's family.
Zahau's family claims Dina Shacknai and Nina Romero went to the house and attacked Zahau with some sort of blunt object, then -- with Adam Shacknai's help -- tied up Zahau and tossed her over a balcony, staging it as a suicide, complete with a suicide note painted on a door.
When Zahau's body was found, she was naked, with her feet bound, and her hands bound behind her neck. Despite this, and the presence of head injuries, authorities in San Diego County said there was no foul play involved, and ruled the death a suicide.
Kim Schumann, an attorney representing Dina Shacknai, issued a statement yesterday stating the lawsuit is "baseless and senseless."
"The Plaintiffs obviously wish to portray their allegations in a light that will support their claims for recovery of money," Schumann says. "We have no doubt that when the actual facts are made known, Ms. Shacknai and her sister will be vindicated regarding any involvement related to Rebecca Zahau's tragic death."
Although this lawsuit has been allowed to move forward, it doesn't speak to the validity of the lawsuit, which Schumann addresses in his statement.
"These are simply unsupported assertions by the Plaintiffs who, in this beginning phase of the litigation, are able to allege almost whatever they want," Schumann says. "The general public needs to be aware that the court did not determine or substantiate the accuracy of these allegations in making its ruling."
New Times left messages for both attorneys representing Zahau's family in this lawsuit, and did not receive an immediate response. This post will be updated if we get a response.
Court records show Dina Shacknai's attorneys wanted this latest version of the lawsuit dismissed because it's totally "devoid of facts," and doesn't give a source of supposed evidence it describes. However, at this early stage of the lawsuit, the judge ruled that the allegations met the established standard for such cases, and refused to dismiss the lawsuit.
Below, find the complaint from Zahau's family, which includes the entire theory of the supposed conspiracy to kill Zahau.
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