Police reports reveal problems in relationship between dead boy's parents

City News Service

Newly released police reports show that the parents of a 6-year-old boy fatally injured in a Coronado mansion last week were involved in at least two domestic altercations while living in Arizona, adding a new twist to two death investigations that continue Tuesday.

Max Shacknai died Sunday from injuries he suffered on July 11 in a fall from a staircase in the famed Spreckels mansion. Max's father, Jonah Shacknai, owns the 103-year-old Ocean Boulevard manor.

On July 13, the nude body of Jonah Shacknai's 32-year-old girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was found dead with a rope around her neck and her hands and feet bound.

Zahau, whose deaths has yet to be ruled a homicide, suicide or accident, reportedly was looking after Max when he suffered the fatal fall. Jonah Shacknai's brother, Adam, told investigators that he found Zahau hanging from a balcony and cut her down before help arrived, sheriff's authorities said.

Last week, authorities said Jonah and Adam were being thought of solely as witnesses and there were no "persons of interest" or suspects in Zahau's death. They also said the death appeared unrelated to Max's death. However, this week, investigators have remained tight-lipped about both death investigations.

On Monday, the Paradise Valley Police Department in Phoenix, Ariz. released reports showing that Jonah Shacknai and his ex-wife, Dina — Max's mother — leveled claims and counterclaims of physical violence and verbal abuse against each other in 2008 and 2009, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Apparently, neither was arrested as a result of the accusations.

The couple responded to the police reports in a joint statement released late Monday night.

"While our marriage did not work out as either of us had hoped, it did produce a wonderful son, Max, whom both of us loved very much. His loss is unimaginable,'' the statement read. "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.''

The statement went on to say, "The release of the records as we grieve Max's recent loss pains us greatly, and we request that the privacy of our family be respected. The unfortunate attention to these records is a distraction from the most important concern of honoring our beautiful son, who

lives on in both of our hearts.''

Shacknai is founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., which makes anti-aging products. The 54-year-old has owned the $7 million Spreckels mansion since 2007. Max's mother reportedly lives a short distance from the mansion.

John D. Spreckels — one of San Diego's wealthiest and most renowned early empire builders — built the estate in 1908.

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