A Case for Murder

Rebecca Zahau's State of Mind



Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide for men and women, accounting for 60 percent of all suicides. The second most common method for men is hanging; for women, the second most common method is self-poisoning including drug overdose (National Institute of Mental Health, 2010).


No one can delve intrinsically into any human's mind to know exactly what they are thinking and what their motives might be for any giving behavior. As such, answers to Rebecca Zahau's death will not be found by speculating about her allegedly depressed mental state leading up to the time of her death. In fact, Rebecca's behavior prior to her death was normal as were her conversations with family and friends.


The cognitive actions of a person about to commit suicide, is relevant in this case. For example, individuals who have attempted suicide described a feeling of grayness and being mentally foggy – they are not really aware of their surroundings (Ring and Fenwick). In other words, they are in a dream-like state. Now let’s consider some acts that occurred at the Shacknai mansion on July 13, 2011. These are actions that police allegedly claim that Ms. Zahau carried out prior to taking her life. Below is only a short list of these actions.


1.                  Deciding on exactly what method to use to die

2.                  Locating the device to carry out the method of death

3.                  Making sure that no one interrupted this preparation

4.                  Preparing the rope for the hanging such as attaching it to the bed

5.                  Thinking about and then deciding on just the right message (meaning) to paint on the door

6.                  Retrieving the art supplies to carry out writing the message.

7.                  Changes paint brushes

8.                  Thinking about and then deciding to paint tiny spots on various parts of the body

9.                  Strategically placing the two knives and paint brushes on the floor

10.              Figuring out intricate ways to tie the bindings around her wrist and ankles


Now, let’s examine each of the above activities in detail in relation to the police theory of suicide.


The police could never determine where the pink rope came from. Using total speculation they assumed that it could have been retrieved from the garage because there was an empty space on a shelf. The police simply do not know where the rope came from.


Because the police do not know where the rope came from they also do not know how or even if Ms. Zahau retrieved the rope herself.


The San Diego Sheriff Department concluded that Ms. Zahau carried out an elaborate scheme to hang herself but never considered why the sudden cease in her phone activities around 10:40 pm.


The San Diego Sheriff Department concluded that Ms. Zahau carried out an elaborate scheme to hang herself but never considered it odd that the victim ended up only 26.5 inches from the ground. Clearly, during all this elaborate planning Ms. Zahau completely failed to pay attention to the one item that would ensure her death – the length of the rope. A person focused on hanging themselves would make sure the rope was short enough so that they would die.


Psychologically the message painted on the door “points” a finger of guilt. Escaping and relieving pain and hurt is the hallmark of a suicidal person – Rebecca would have left a message indicating sorrow if she had committed suicide. Like the crime scene staging the message was really meant to discombobulate the investigation.


On the bedroom floor located at the foot of the bed were two paint brushes. Both had green handles. These were the type of brushes that an artist might use to paint on canvas. The larger brush had black paint on the tip indicating it was likely used to paint an cryptic message on a door. The smaller paint brush had no paint on the brush indicating that it was not used at all. It was likely determined that it would require a lot more time to write out a message on the door with the smaller brush, so a larger brush was retrieved. Deciding to use another brush indicates a clear cognitive thought process unlikely to be associated with a depressed, distraught and suicidal person preparing to leap over a balcony to their death within minutes.


The location of the knives and some other items found on the floor were not just haphazardly dropped. The items were staged except for two – Rebecca's cell phone and the white wicker chair with the red blanket, which was knocked over and lying near the balcony door. The chair likely indicates that a struggle occurred, which police ignored.


The intricate method of looping and tying of the rope was unfamiliar with Rebecca. The way in which Rebecca was bound was too complex to figure out especially in the few minutes she had to live. Also, the length of rope raises some interesting questions. Considering the length of rope that was tied to the bed – was the rope that bound Rebecca from that same rope? Was there a second rope? How long are similar ropes when new?


The actions discussed in the above narrative according to police were planned and put in to action in less than two hours.


When you consider the unlikelihood that Ms. Zahua carried the above actions along with a botched crime scene investigation such as missed unknown shoe prints and no left footprint on the balcony then the only reasonable conclusion one could make is that her death is highly suspicious.


Dr. Maurice Godwin







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COPYRIGHT: (2017-18) All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Maurice Godwin.