Family Says San Diego Mansion Death Was Murder

Authorities declared the hanging death of a young woman at a San Diego mansion a suicide, but her family insists she was murdered. INSIDE EDITION reports.

The family of the beautiful woman found naked and hanging from a balcony at a mansion say she was murdered.

32-year-old Rebecca Zahau's bizarre death was ruled a suicide last Friday, despite the fact that her hands were tied behind her back.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department released an extraordinary video demonstrating how they believe she tied her own hands behind her back: First, the woman doing the demonstration ties her hands loosely in the front and pulls one hand out of the knot. She then puts her hand into the knot behind her back and pulls on a loose cord to tighten the rope.

Dr. Cyril Wecht has been retained by Zahau's family to investigate her death, and he's scoffing at the police video. INSIDE EDITION's Paul Boyd spoke with Wecht.

"Let me ask you, for $100,000 right now, can you do it? I can't. This is ridiculous for the sheriff's office to have presented that as proof. It's not proof. It simply suggests that it can be done. I don't have any question that it can be done. My question is, does this young lady have any skill, any knowledge in this binding phenomenon? Not many people do," said Wecht.

And Zahau's sister Mary told INSIDE EDITION that Rebecca could not have tied such a complex knot.

"My sister didn't know anything about knots. Those are very complicated knots and a very complicated way of binding yourself. I don't believe it," said Mary.

The mansion is owned by Zahau's boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, founder of a successful anti-aging skin products company.

Her death was part of a double tragedy at the mansion. Two days earlier Shacknai's 6-year-old son Max fell from the landing of a staircase. Zahau's naked body was found hanging from a balcony at the rear of the mansion hours after she learned the child would not survive.

"How unusual is a case like this?" asked Boyd.

"This is very rare. Women do not like to be found exposed, nude in death in situations like this," said Wecht.

San Diego officials gave a two hour presentation of their findings Friday and say the case is closed. The dead woman's family has hired an attorney who says she will be officially asking the sheriff to reopen the investigation.