Rebecca Zahau’s nude body was found dangling from the balcony at her boyfriend’s mansion. Oddly enough, Ms. Zahau bound her hands and feet with rope. With the rope around her neck, she rolled herself off the balcony to her death. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has closed the criminal investigation citing there is no evidence to indicate foul play. The people closest to Ms. Zahau, including her distraught family, do not believe she committed suicide. A recent report by renowned forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht may confirm her family’s suspicions.
Unexplained Head Injuries
Dr. Wecht has reviewed Ms. Zahau’s complete autopsy file. According to CBS Station KFMB, Dr. Wecht has called into question the head injuries Ms. Zahau sustained in the fall from the balcony. Dr. Wecht indicated Ms. Zahau has unexplained hemorrhages underneath the surface of her scalp. In his view, these types of injuries are usually the result of blunt trauma. According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, tree branches possibly caused these injuries as the woman fell. In Dr. Wecht’s opinion, the impact of the branches would not have been great enough to cause the injuries. To support his claim, photos of the scene show two small trees by the balcony. Neither tree has limbs or branches that appear large enough to cause such extensive head injuries.
In addition to the head injuries, Dr. Wecht raised questions regarding tape residue and bruising found around her legs, according to a recent interview with the New York Daily News. From the evidence, it appears she taped her legs together, decided to remove the tape, and bound her legs with rope instead. Although the act of self binding may be difficult to imagine, it is not completely unheard of in cases of suicide. According to San Diego County Deputy Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas, “People bind themselves so they don’t change their minds midway through.” Be that as it may, add to the binding the piece of shirt she placed in her mouth as a gag, and there are more questions than answers. It is understandable her family hired an attorney to pursue a claim of foul play.
Dr. Wecht, hired by the family’s attorney to investigate the case, indicated to the New York Daily News he was not calling the case a homicide. However, he has raised many valid questions regarding the evidence. He also stated he would not have been so quick to rule this case a suicide. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department stands by its decision to close the case because the only fingerprints and DNA found at the scene belonged to Ms. Zahau.
Request to Reopen the Case
The family’s attorney is requesting the Sheriff’s Department reopen the case. The serious questions raised by Dr. Wecht’s findings warrant answers. The lack of further investigation by law enforcement may have resulted in the loss of crucial evidence. While the Sheriff’s Department claims Ms. Zahau’s death resulted from hanging, it is conceivable her death was the result of head injuries. If the investigation into the death is reopened, and investigators cannot prove suicide based on the evidence, a wrongful death lawsuit may be the only option for Rebecca Zahau’s family.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers head injuries a public health issue. According to the CDC, 1.7 million people suffer traumatic head injuries. In addition, CDC statistics show approximately 52,000 people die each year because of these injuries. The leading cause of head injuries are falls and car accidents. Unfortunately, the damage may not appear until several months later, making it difficult to trace.
If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury due to the negligence of another, the best course of action is to seek the advice of an attorney. Contact our experienced attorneys for a free consultation. We will discuss your legal rights and options to help you choose the best course of action.