54-year-old Shacknai is chief executive of Arizona-based Medicis Pharmaceuticals, a company specializing in beauty products. He lived peacefully with his 6-year-old son, Max, and Rebecca Nalepa, his girlfriend of three years in a 27-bedroom historic mansion built in 1908 by a California media mogul John D. Spreckels in Coronado, Calif.
However, July 11 was a fatal day in the lives of these three people. Little Max was seriously injured after falling down the stairs in the mansion. The boy was rushed to the hospital where he fell into a coma.
On July 17, little Max died from the injuries.
However, the bigger mystery surrounds the death of Shacknai’s girlfriend. Rebecca was found hanging nude from a second story balcony in the mansion, her hands and feet bound, two days after the little boy fell on the stairs.
Detectives found the crime scene “very suspicious.”
“It’s not usual to find a female unclothed, tied up and hanging,” Sgt. Roy Frank, of the San Diego Sheriff’s homicide unit, told People. “This, combined with Max’s death, makes it a suspicious case.”
Relatives of Nalepa refuse to believe in the hypothesis of suicide. Her sister firmly denied such a theory in a statement: “My sister did not commit suicide. My sister was not depressed, my sister was not frantic, my sister was planning to call my parents the next day and was planning to keep me posted about Max the next day.”
John Shacknai has been the subject of much attention lately due to these tragic events. According to police, he is not a person of interest since he wasn’t at home when these incidents took place, but the media has turned its attention to his life.
Shacknai and ex-wife Dina, Max’s mother, released a joint statement in remembrance of the boy: “His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will be forever in our hearts and those whom he touched every day.”
Jonah Shacknai divorced twice. His second divorce from the mother of little Max had led to mutual accusations of physical and verbal harassment.
However, a police report obtained by ABC News, Dina Shacknai said at one point that she was “scared of what he is capable of doing to me physically … and the lengths he would go to try to ‘destroy’ me.”
Shacknai denied the accusations, calling them “false and misleading reports.”
Earlier this week, Jonah and Dina released a statement saying the records release “pains us greatly” after the loss of their son.
“These police reports are not reflective of the totality or the precise details of the events during a difficult time in our marriage that we worked through together.”
“We’re trying to keep an open mind,” says sheriff’s Sgt. Frank. “We believe the evidence will point us in the right direction.”
To meet the demand for interviews, he hired a Los Angeles PR firm, and has left San Diego.
According to witnesses, Shacknai and Rebecca Nalepa had been dating for three years and seemed happy together. She seemed to have a close relationship with little Max.