Coronado Island (actually a peninsula) in the San Diego metro area, is an upscale quiet community of about 24,000 people, reached from the San Diego mainland via the Coronado Bridge and connected by a thin strip of beach to the Imperial Beach community, also in San Diego County. The skyline is dominated by the exquisite Hotel del Coronado, where the jet set and royalty have relaxed since the 1800’s.
Home to the Coronado Naval Air Station and the U.S Navy SEAL training center, Coronado lies like a jewel surrounded by the Pacific and San Diego Bay. Expensive beachfront condominiums and charming pastel-painted bungalows sit along quiet streets and the occasional mansion.
Coronado is typically an exquisite, low-crime, high-rent area. The last twelve months, however, have been frustrating for the Coronado Police Department. Two highly-publicized cases have received international attention during this time and disturbed the usual peace of the area.
Last July, Rebecca Zahau was found naked and dead, hanging with her hands bound behind her at the Spreckel’s Mansion on Coronado. Her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, a millionaire pharmaceutical executive, had lost his young son two days before Zahau’s death. The young boy reportedly fell down the stairs while under the care of Ms. Zahau.
The San Diego Coroner ruled the death a suicide. Famed forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, re-examined the body at Zahau’s family’s request. He posits that the death may have been a murder, especially in view of the situation of her bound hands.
Less than six months later, a triple murder suicide occurred on Coronado on New Year’s Day
The Coronado Police Department is small and unused to investigating homicides. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department is the lead investigating agency responsible for both cases. The Sheriff’s Department has not completed the triple murder/suicide investigation. They have, however, identified four found dead in and around an expensive condo.
Among the dead was John Reeves, a Navy F/A-18 pilot, who shot himself in the head. Also found dead were David Reis, age 25, another Navy F/A-18 pilot from the same unit and his sister, Karen, age 24, a volleyball coach. The siblings were devout Catholics and reportedly inseparable.
The last victim was Mathew Saturley, age 31, of Chula Vista, also in San Diego County. He was found dead at the scene. The group had apparently been celebrating the New Year and returned to the condominium afterwards. The Sheriff’s Department has not provided additional details.
Meanwhile, residents of the quiet community are shocked and disquieted by these violent and notorious deaths in a community sought after for its peace and tranquility.
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