Zahau family files complaint calling for more transparency in death investigation

Local

SAN DIEGO – Tuesday marks 10 years since a woman was found naked, bound and hanging at the historic Spreckels Mansion in Coronado.

The death of Rebecca Zahau once again is the focus of legal action filed Monday by her loved ones.

The amended 153-page complaint against San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore asks him to provide all department records, including detective’s notes, to Zahau’s family members. It also alleges the sheriff and his investigators ignored key evidence in the case since it began in July 2011.

“There is a lot of frustration,” said Mary Zahau-Loehner, Rebecca’s sister. “There is a lot of hurt, broken-heart pain that our family has gone through over 10 years. But we’re not going to stop fighting”

It has been a difficult decade for Zahau-Loehner, who misses her sister every day.

“We dread the day, but at the same time we know she is in heaven,” she said. “It reminds us that we have to keep fighting here on Earth and find justice for her.”

While the sheriff’s department always has maintained the 32-year-old committed suicide, the family disagrees. They believe she was killed.

“Sheriff Gore likes to say that science does not lie,” Zahau-Loehner said. “Yes, definitely science does not lie and science says my sister was murdered.”

In the complaint, the family alleges that the sheriff and his investigators ignored new evidence presented in a civil trial, which found Adam Shacknai, the brother of Rebecca’s boyfriend, liable for her death.

That evidence included expert testimony that Rebecca was strangled before the scene was staged to look like a hanging.

“All the evidence they collected all points to murder,” she said. “They just didn’t take the time of day to really investigate and look into it.”

FOX 5 reached out to the sheriff’s department for reaction to the amended complaint, but did not hear back. Typically, the department does not comment on pending litigation.

In addition to getting the sheriff to turn over all records and the medical examiner to change Rebecca’s cause of death, the family also is holding out hope for another outcome.

“They really need to give it to another agency to do the investigation,” Zahau-Loehner said. “At this point, they need to hand it over to another department, really any other law enforcement, but the sheriff’s department.”

Read the entire complaint below

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