The 6-year-old son of a prominent pharmaceutical executive died Sunday, almost a week after falling down the stairs at his family's mansion and four days after his father's girlfriend was found dead hanging from a balcony in the house.
SAN DIEGO – The wealthy parents of a 6-year-old boy who died after a fall down the stairs of his father's historic mansion had two domestic altercations during their divorce more than two years ago, police records show.
Max Shacknai died after the fall on July 11 at the mansion of pharmaceuticals tycoon Jonah Shacknai.
Two days after the fall, Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was found dead, hanging nude from a second-floor balcony with her wrists and ankles bound.
Investigators said they have not established any connection between the boy's fall and the death of Zahau. Autopsy reports on both deaths are being sealed due to the ongoing investigation.
Records released Monday by police in Paradise Valley, Arizona, show Max's parents, Jonah and Dina Shacknai, going through a stormy divorce. The documents do not indicate any arrests were made in the disputes.
In September 2008, Jonah Shacknai went to a police station to report that his wife "came at him and tried to choke him," according to the police report. Dina Shacknai told police the couple's German Shepherd bit her during an argument.
"She explained that during these incidents the dog responds to Jonah, who while he has not intentionally had the dog attack Dina, Jonah is not quick to pull the dog away when he goes after her," the report said.
In January 2009, Dina Shacknai told police her husband elbowed her in the chest after he refused to read a bedtime story to their son. Jonah Shacknai disputed her account, telling police that he had to "nudge her" out of his car as he prepared to leave the driveway and she reached in while the engine was running.
Jonah and Dina Shacknai said the release of the police records drew "unfortunate attention" as they honored their son.
"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," they said in a statement. "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."
When Max fell down the stairs, Zahau was at home with a 13-year-old girl whom authorities won't name but was not related to the Shacknais. Paramedics found the boy wasn't breathing and did not have a pulse. Investigators said the fall was an accident.
Investigators said Zahau's death was suspicious but they haven't ruled out suicide.