Investigators on Friday, July 15, 2011 were searching for clues surrounding the mysterious death of a woman at a beach front mansion in one of Southern California's most prestigious neighborhoods.
Police in Coronado,Aloka Ultrasonic ProbeCA are trying to determine if the suspicious death of Rebecca Nalepa should be treated as a suicide or a murder, as seen in the attached slide show and video clip which accompany this report.
Police in Coronado, CA are investigating the mysterious death of Rebecca Nalepa, whose nude body was found hanging from a balcony on an exclusive estate. WED Ultrasound ProbeArea in black shows location of body after it was cut down. PDT, according to reports published in the Daily Mail, San Diego Union Tribune, KABC TV, KNSD TV NBC San Diego, WMC TV, KGTV ABC 10News San Diego, and multiple other media sources on Friday, July 15, 2011.
Ms. Nalepa, also known as Rebecca Zahau, was discovered by 47 year old Adam L. Shacknai from Memphis, TN, the brother of Jonah Shacknai who owns the mansion. They were allegedly the only two people on the property, which contains a 27 room main house, and several smaller guest and staff buildings situated on almost half an acre of beachfront land.
Mr. Shacknai cut her down and called police. When they arrived paramedics described the woman's condition as "distressed", but after unsuccessful attempts were made to revive her, including CPR, she was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Tim Curran, with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, he described the circumstances of her death as "very suspicious and violent" adding that "Suicide is a possibility. The circumstances are bizarre."
Nalepa has been described as the live in girlfriend of 54 year old Jonah Shacknai, the chairman and CEO of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation, based in Scottsdale, AZ. They are reported to have been in a relationship for the past two years.
She had previously been employed from April 2008 to December 2010 by Horizon Eye Specialists Lasik Center in north Phoenix as a certified ophthalmic technician, aiding doctors in Lasik and cataract surgeries, according to company CEO Michael J. Trier.
Ms. Nalepa was originally born Myanmar, also known as Burma, and attended a Christian bible college in Austria, before emigrating to the United States. A friend confided to a reporter at KNSD TV that, because of her religious beliefs, it is highly unlikely that Rebecca would commit suicide.
Her death may be related to the accidental fall of 6 year old Max Shanknai at the same residence two days earlier, on Monday, July 11. The child, who was being watched by Ms. Nalepa, was reported to have fallen down a flight of stairs. He was unresponsive when paramedics arrived, and was taken to Rady Children's Hospital in La Jolla, CA, where he was put on life support.
There are media reports that the child has been in a coma since the fall and is regarded as medically brain dead, but they have not been confirmed by the hospital.
Both Jonah Shacknai and his ex wife, psychologist Dr. Dina Marie Shacknai, the boy's mother, have been continually at the child's bedside since the accident.
The violent death of Rebecca Nalepa has shaken the wealthy, upscale Coronado community, which is located across the bay, just over 5 miles from downtown San Diego. News and World Report lists Coronado as one of the most expensive places to reside in the United States. Nicknamed "The Crown City", its population was 24,697 at the 2010 United States census, and is said to have the largest number of retired naval Admirals and other military flag officers, on a per capita basis.
The city hosts the nearby Naval Air Station North Island (NZY), which is the home port of several aircraft carriers, and a training area for the United States Navy SEALs, at the United States Naval Special Warfare Command.
The Spreckels mansion where Ms. Nalepa died, faces the sea at 1043 Ocean Boulevard. It was built in 1908 by John D. Spreckels, who owned the nearby Hotel del Coronado. The 12,751 square foot property, designed by architect Harrison Albright, incorporated Italian Renaissance and Beaux Arts styles, and commands a 115 foot unobstructed beach view. It was placed on the market in June 2005 at an asking price of $16,500,000.
The home's present owner, Jonah Shacknai, founded Medicis Pharmaceutical in 1988. The company makes products for the treatment of skin disorders, and has annual revenues of about $350 million.
Former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst, now in private legal practice, was seen at the property earlier in the week, and is believed to have been retained by Jonah Shacknai.
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