Reports: Parents of dead boy have history of domestic violence

CORONADO (CNS) – 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 ongoing death investigations.

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

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

Zahau, whose death has yet to be ruled a homicide, suicide or accident, was reportedly looking after Max when he suffered the fatal fall. The elder Shacknai's brother, Adam, told investigators he found her hanging from a balcony and cut her down before helped 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 the case of 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, which includes two auxiliary residences, in 1908.

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