The woman who died at Spreckels mansion was found nude, bound and hanging from a second-floor balcony by the homeowner’s brother, investigators said at a late morning news briefing Thursday.
Adam Shacknai spotted Rebecca Nalepa, 32, hanging by her neck from an exterior balcony Wednesday morning, said San Diego County Sheriffs Capt. Tim Curran. Shacknai cut her down, placed her on the lawn outside the residence and alerted authorities.
Nalepa was hung from a three-foot railing by a rope, Curran said, with her hands tied behind her back. She had bindings on each leg, but they were not tied together.
He declined to identify what the bindings were on her hands and legs.
Despite the “unique and bizarre circumstances of this incident,” Curran said, investigators are unprepared to declare the case a homicide pending further investigation.
He added that there is no reason for the public to be alarmed about further dangers. He also said investigators have yet to identify or rule anyone out as a suspect.
“There is nothing to indicate this is anything other than an isolated incident right now,” Curran said.
An autopsy was being performed as he was conducting the news conference, Curran said. Investigators were waiting for a cause of death and to determine if the victim had been sexually assaulted.
Adam Shacknai was staying in a guesthouse on the property in the 1000 block of Ocean Boulevard, Curran said, while Nalepa was in the main house.
They were the only two people in the historic oceanfront home Tuesday evening, he added. The balcony was outside a bedroom in the main house, though Curran would not say if it was Nalepa’s usual room.
The homeowner, Jonah Shacknai, a pharmaceuticals magnate, was not on site at the time. Curran would not reveal Jonah Shacknai’s current whereabouts.
Questions also have surrounded a Monday incident at the mansion – built by influential San Diego businessman John Spreckels – in which the 6-year-old son of the homeowner was injured in a fall. He remains at Rady Children’s Hospital.
Coronado police chief Louis Scanlon said an unidentifed woman in the home called for help at 10:10 a.m. and authorities arrived to find the boy without a pulse and not breathing.
Investigators continue to maintain, however, that the two incidents, despite the odd timing, are not related.
“At this time, there’s no information that would lead us to believe this is anything other than a tragic accident with the child,’ said Scanlon, who joined Curran at the briefing.
The Sheriffs Department’s homicide unit took over the case at the request of Coronado’s police, because the city’s department does not maintain a full-time homicide unit.
Curran would not comment on several other factors in the case, including Nalepa’s state of mind or what interactions she may have had with Adam Shacknai before her death.