A Great Loss
“There has been so much media scrutiny — opinions, rumors, innuendo — regarding the topic of today’s show,” Dr. Phil says. “I’m talking about the mysterious death of Rebecca Zahau, the girlfriend of pharmaceutical tycoon, Jonah Shacknai."

Rebecca Zahau was found hanging just days after Jonah’s 6-year-old son, Max, reportedly fell over the second story banister in their home and was left in a coma. Investigators say Shacknai’s brother found the woman nude, hanging from a second-story balcony off the guest room of the main house with her feet bound and hands tied behind her back. The authorities ruled the case a suicide, but the family believes they are left with far more questions than answers, and they want to re-open the case.

Rebecca’s sister, Mary, and Mary’s husband, Doug, say the details surrounding her death are far more sinister. “She did not commit suicide. She was murdered,” Mary says.

Some speculate that Rebecca could have killed herself because of guilt over Max's accident. Mary says that before her death, Rebecca recalled for her what happened on the day of the child's devastating fall. She says that Rebecca found Max on the floor unconscious, and she performed CPR. “She felt horrible, but she said it was something that she couldn’t have prevented,” Mary says. “She did not feel guilty about it.”

Doug echoes the same sentiments. He says, “Becky never indicated that she felt responsible for Max’s fall.”

Mary says that she was the last person who spoke to Rebecca before her death. She says her sister didn’t show any signs of depression, nor did she think she would take her own life. “It was like any other conversation, except the fact that Max was injured,” Mary says of that last chat. 

Doug says that Jonah called and informed him that Rebecca had committed suicide. He explains that having to tell his wife that her sister had passed on was the “hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

“It was like a bad horror movie,” Mary describes. “It was very shocking. My sister is not the type of person to commit suicide. I don’t know who to believe and who not to believe.

“[The police] did not give my sister a fair investigation,” Mary says of the suicide determination. “Becky would not strip herself naked, bind herself in that manner — and definitely not for the world to see.”

“On the door leading into the room where Becky was killed, in black paint, it said, ‘She Saved Him. Can He Save Her?’” Doug recalls.

[AD]“It’s all in third person,” Mary says. “And it does not make sense.” Mary adds that investigators say they don’t know where the rope came from. Of the two knives in the room: one had Rebecca’s fingerprints, and the other had no prints. “The knife had to get there somehow. This is a staged homicide. My sister was killed, and someone staged it to make it look like she did it to herself.” Mary says Rebecca’s body was found with very dirty feet, not consistent with simply standing on the balcony. “There was a chair knocked over in the room. I would think a chair knocked over is a sign of a struggle,” she says, countering police reports that there was no struggle.

“I want people to know that we are trying to find the truth, so, at some point, we can mourn Becky, and she can rest in peace,” Mary says tearfully.
Rebecca’s family says they have reached out to Dr. Phil for help. Recently, the family had the body exhumed to have a second autopsy preformed by renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Doug and Mary join Dr. Phil onstage.

“I truly believe that my sister was murdered,” Mary defiantly tells Dr. Phil. “I don’t know who, but in the chain of events, it started with [Max’s fall]. I don’t know if there is a direct relationship to that or not, but my sister was murdered by somebody.”

“Your family has reached out to us — not once but twice — asking for our help in this,” Dr. Phil says. “Then you made a huge decision,” he says, referencing having the body exhumed.

Mary clarifies that the family decided to exhume Rebecca’s body far before contacting the show.

Dr. Phil says that there are two possibilities in this case — murder or suicide. “You have to at least acknowledge the possibility that it may just be too painful for you to see it, that it’s caused you to look at this in a biased fashion,” he tells Mary. “Can you, at least, acknowledge, intellectually, that it’s a possibility?”

Mary agrees. “Is it possible?” she asks rhetorically. “Anything is possible. There is nothing beyond possibility. But, knowing my sister, there is no way she would go in this manner.”

[AD]Dr. Phil says Rebecca was raised by missionaries in a spiritual home. He says there was no record of mental illness — no depression, no psychosis. And in the days before her death, he says, there was no indication she wanted to hurt herself, according to her family.

“You feel like they weren’t following the evidence — they weren’t following the signs?” Dr. Phil asks Mary.

She agrees and says she believes there was a great deal of evidence that wasn’t examined in her sister’s case.