Max Shacknai was six years old when he plummeted down the steps of his father’s mansion to his death. At the time, he was being watched over by his father’s girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, who took her life just days after the incident.
“She’s Harvard educated, extremely well-credentialed,” journalist Ted Rowlands says of the medical examiner in Rebecca Zahau: An ID Murder Mystery.
Melinek delved into Max’s case file and discovered a detail in some images of the family’s mansion, the Spreckels Beach House, that gave her clues about the child’s possible cause of death.
“The first thing that she noticed was that flooring on the second level was a deep, thick carpeting,” Rowlands says, adding Max was allegedly riding his scooter on the carpet when he fell.
“She says the thick carpeting in the upstairs hallway would not have allowed Max to reach a speed that would plummet him over the banister,” Diane Dimond, a crime and justice reporter, says in the clip, suggesting that something or someone else may have pushed the boy over the edge.
Max died in the hospital on July 16, 2011, days after the fall.
While Rebecca’s family insists she was murdered, police believe Max’s fall drove her to take her own life.
Rebecca Zahau: An ID Murder Mystery premieres Monday, May 27 at 9/8c.