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More than seven years after Rebecca Zahau was found hanging inside a California mansion, authorities have confirmed that they have concluded a review of the initial investigation, and maintain that Zahau’s death was a suicide.
“The case team found no evidence that led us to believe that Rebecca Zahau died at the hands of another,” Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters on Friday.
The case has remained in the spotlight, and skepticism about the initial investigation grew after a jury found Adam Shacknai, the brother of Zahau's boyfriend, pharmaceutical executive Jonah Shacknai, liable for the death and awarded more than $5 million to Zahau's mother.
Gore initiated the reinvestigation into the case in April. They did not collect new evidence during this review.
“We looked at the existing evidence in the case with fresh eyes, with a fresh perspective from scratch…” Lt. Rich Williams said at the press conference. “All of the evidence points to one logical conclusion and that’s a suicide.”
Zahau, 32, (left in the above photo) was found dead in 2011 in Shacknai's Coronado mansion. Shacknai's brother, Adam Shacknai, reported finding her body.
Investigators ruled the death a suicide but Zahau’s mother sued, alleging that Adam Shacknai, 54, sexually assaulted and killed her, then staged the hanging to look like she killed herself.
Shacknai issued a public statement welcoming Gore’s review shortly after the sheriff announced it in April.
"I was in no way involved with Rebecca's death, which was part of a tragic sequence of events, that also involved the loss of my six-year nephew Max. I will be pleased to assist the investigation in any way requested, as I have all along," he wrote.
On Friday, the Zahau’s family attorney, Keith Greer, who had requested the investigation be reopened following results of the lawsuit, said that the sheriff’s department informed him of its “sad” decision Friday morning.
“We gave them another opportunity to do the right thing,” Greer told reporters. “Instead they continue to support an improper and biased decision.”
Gore shot down any accusations of corruption within his department.
“I never took any money from Jonah Shacknai in my reelection campaign,” he said, adding that he took “personal offense” to such claims.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Sheriff Bill Gore shown in 2011; Credit: Associated Press]
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