Memorial Grows in Front of Spreckels Mansion

Notes among flowers in front of Spreckels mansion.

A basket of roses and gerbera daisies overflowed on the Spreckels mansion lawn Monday, filled with cards lamenting the loss of the 32-year-old woman who died there Wednesday.

The cards read “in loving memory of Rebecca Zahau” and offer an order of service for a memorial, without stating a date for when the service was or is scheduled.

They feature a snapshot of a woman with curly dark locks, made-up as if for a party and wearing white, half smiling into the camera.

Zahau, the girlfriend of the homeowner, Jonah Shacknai, was found nude with her hands bound behind her back. Jonah Shacknai’s brother Adam told police he found her hanging from the mansion’s second floor balcony and cut her down.

Jonah Shacknai is known as the well-connected founder of Medicis, an Arizona pharmaceuticals company and a prominent member of the Scottsdale community.

Less is known about Zahau, who has family in Texas and Missouri who have shared their shock at her death, but few personal details.

Local proprietors who encountered her have described her as friendly and very fit. The San Diego Union-Tribune said she was a technician in an ophthalmologist’s office and had been convicted of a misdemeanor in Phoenix following a 2009 shoplifting arrest.

Several loved ones scrawled unsigned messages on the memorial cards placed in a bowl atop a basket on the mansion’s lawn. A few residents and tourists on strolls paused to read the handwritten notes.

One person thanked Zahau for being “my friend, my teacher, my encouragement.” Another was glad she was a friend to his wife.

“I cannot tell the world how you have touched my life,” a third person wrote, while another complimented Zahau for offering support.

“It was the way you listened, the way you comforted, the way you related to my every heartache … you were a true friend,” the person wrote.

Detectives have not released a cause of death for Zahau though an autopsy was completed Thursday. They have maintained that there is a possibility that the woman may have taken her own life.

A kennel owner also described her as shaken by an incident in the summer home she shared with Jonah Shacknai that led to the death of his son, Max, 6.

Police said Max fell down a Spreckels staircase one week ago and was found not breathing and without a pulse. He was revived, but after several days of treatment the family announced his death Sunday.

Police said Monday that Zahau and her 13-year-old sister were home at the time of the fall and the teen summoned authorities to help the boy.