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What happened at the Spreckels Mansion? Deaths of Maxfield Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau detailed on 20/20 On ID

Rebecca Zahau photo
Rebecca Zahau was found dead at the Spreckels Mansion, days after her boyfriend’s son, Maxfield “Max” Shacknai, died from a tragic accident inside the mansion. Pic credit: Family

The deaths of Maxfield “Max” Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau at the Spreckels Mansion are featured in the latest episode of 20/20 On ID on Investigation Discovery.

Spreckels Mansion is located in Coronado, California, and it was owned by Jonah Shacknai, the CEO and founder of a wealthy pharmaceutical company named Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp.

Jonah lived in the beachfront mansion with his 32-year-old girlfriend, Zahau, of two years.

However, tragedy struck on July 11, 2016, when his 6-year-old son, Max, was left in Zahau’s care while he was at the gym a few blocks away. Max had fallen down the stairs and fractured his facial bones, severed his spinal cord, and went into cardiac arrest.

Zahau told police that she was in a downstairs bathroom and her 13-year-old sister, Xena, who was visiting, was in another bathroom when she heard a loud noise.

She initially thought it was a crash or the sound of her dog barking, but when she went to check it out, she said she found Max on the floor in the foyer with soccer balls scattered around, and his Razor scooter was on top of his leg.

A chandelier was also on the floor, which led her to believe that Max had fallen from the second-floor railing, bringing the chandelier with him.

Max was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he died five days later from a brain injury.

Three days before Max succumbed to his injuries, Zahau was found dead outside the Spreckels Mansion. Jonah’s brother, Adam Shacknai, said he found her hanging from her neck in the rear courtyard of the mansion.

When police arrived at the scene, she had already been cut down. She was nude, laying in the grass with her hands and feet bound with red ropes.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said they also found a strange, cryptic message written with black paint on the interior of one of the mansions’ bedroom doors: “She saved him. Can he save her?”

Detectives then began to question if Zahau’s death was a suicide or murder, but after an investigation, they determined that Zahau died from suicide and Max’s death was a tragic accident, but that didn’t go over too well with their relatives.

Zahau’s family members said she would have never taken her own life, and Max’s mother, Dina, pleaded with investigators to reopen Max’s case to find out what really happened to her son in the Spreckels Mansion as there were several questions left unanswered.

In 2018, a civil trial found that Zahau had been killed at the mansion and had not committed suicide. The jury also found that they believed that Adam Shacknai had touched Zahau with intent to harm her before she died.

20/20 On ID — Mystery In Coronado, airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.


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