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Coronado's Spreckels mansion is sold

A pharmaceutical executive, whose girlfriend killed herself and whose son died after a fall, sells to real estate investors who plan to refurbish the historic home for resale.

November 02, 2011|By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

The historic home in Coronado, Calif., at the center of a high-profile death case is being sold to real estate investors who plan to refurbish the 27-room, 12,750-square-foot mansion for resale, according to a source close to the previous owner.

The sale price was not disclosed, but the home had been listed at $14.5 million.

The Ocean Boulevard house, built for philanthropist and sugar baron John D. Spreckels in the early 1900s, was purchased two years ago by pharmaceutical executive Jonah Shacknai as a summer home.

Shacknai's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found hanging from an upstairs balcony July 13. Her nude body was found with the hands and feet tied.

After a six-week investigation, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Coronado Police Department and San Diego County medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.

But Zahau's family has rejected that finding and arranged for a second autopsy.

The body was exhumed last week from a cemetery in St. Joseph, Mo., and taken to Pittsburgh for an examination by well-known forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. The results are set to be announced on the "Dr. Phil" television show.

Zahau's death came two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, was severely injured in a fall at the Spreckels mansion while under her care.

Investigators concluded that Zahau was despondent after learning that the boy would not survive. He died July 16 at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

The medical examiner said it is not unprecedented for people determined to commit suicide to tie their hands and feet to prevent them from having "second thoughts."

Two websites have been established seeking donations to help the Zahau family continue investigating her death. "The family is left to fight for justice themselves and this fight is an expensive one," according to a family statement on http://www.justiceforrebecca.org.

After the two deaths, Shacknai and his children returned to their home in Scottsdale, Ariz., near his company, Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp.

tony.perry@latimes.com

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