Death of drug company exec's girlfriend ruled suicide

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 02, 2011 3:58 PM
Death of drug company exec's girlfriend ruled suicide

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A woman found hanged, bound and nude at the estate of a prominent pharmaceutical executive in July -- two days after the fatal fall of the executive's young son -- committed suicide, police said on Friday.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said investigators had ruled out foul play in the death of Rebecca Zahau, 32, who was found dead, July 13, dangling by her neck from a courtyard balcony at the landmark Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, an upscale island beach resort.

She was living there at the time as the girlfriend of Jonah Shacknai, 54, the founder and chief executive officer of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp, the Arizona-based maker of the acne treatment Solodyn and wrinkle-filler Restylane.

The unusual death came two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, was critically injured in a fall from a staircase while being looked after by Zahau at the home. The boy died six days later in what investigators have ruled an accident.

"These deaths were not the result of any criminal act," Gore told reporters at a news conference to announce the conclusion of the weeklong investigation.

But family members of Zahau have said they do not believe she took her own life.

(Reporting by Marty Graham; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry Norton, Bernard Orr)