Marcia Clark Investigates The First 48

Real Crime

Marcia Clark on the Death of Rebecca Zahau and the Spreckels Mansion Mystery

Death of Rebecca Zahau
Dr. Jonathan Lucas, of the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office, talks in front of a photo of Rebecca Zahau about his department's finding at a news conference in San Diego on September 2, 2011. Photo: AP Photo/Denis Poroy,File
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    Marcia Clark on the Death of Rebecca Zahau and the Spreckels Mansion Mystery

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      Laura Barcella

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      Marcia Clark on the Death of Rebecca Zahau and the Spreckels Mansion Mystery

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      July 14, 2020

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      A+E Networks

On the latest episode of ‘Marcia Clark Investigates the First 48,‘ the prosecutor tackles a case that, up until recently, hasn’t received widespread media attention: the mysterious death of a young woman at a historic mansion in Coronado, California.

Rebecca Zahau, the live-in girlfriend of top pharmaceutical executive Jonah Shacknai, was found July 13, 2011 with her hands and feet bound, nude and hanging from a balcony. Despite the unusual manner of death, San Diego authorities ruled Zahau’s death a suicide. Her family has always disputed the claim that Zahau would have killed herself.

Clark tells A&E Real Crime why she was interested in investigating this case on the show.

Had you heard of Rebecca Zahau’s death at the Spreckels Mansion before you started working on the show?
Yes. It was a California case. It didn’t go to trial and [the victim] was not famous, but it was a super intriguing case.

I remember first [hearing] about it and trying to read everything I could get my hands on. This woman, according to the police, hung herself nude with her hands behind her back, her feet tied together and a gag around her neck and stuffed in her mouth. It just made no sense that a woman would do this— hang herself from a balcony where she could be seen that way. None of it fit together for me.

I never bought the suicide theory, so I was…very glad to be able to dig into it.

(Editor’s note: On April 4, 2018 Adam Shacknai, the brother of Zahau’s boyfriend, has was found responsible for Zahau’s death in a civil trial. He’s been ordered to pay more than $5 million to Zahau’s family. Shacknai has vowed to appeal the jury’s verdict.)

Subscribe to the Marcia Clark Investigates the First 48 podcast on Apple Podcasts. New episodes of the show premiere Thursdays at 9P ET/PT on A&E. Or watch full episodes of the show on the Marcia Clark Investigates the First 48 website or the A&E app.

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