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Community Read features controversial case

FALLBROOK – "Death on Ocean Boulevard" by New York Times best-selling author Caitlin Rother answers the question, "Who killed Rebecca Zahau, a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her?" Found hanging naked, wrists and ankles bound, hands behind her back, Zahau's 2011 death at the famous Spreckels mansion in Coronado drew intense public and media scrutiny.

The San Diego Sheriff's department concluded that Zahau had committed suicide, but her family was convinced it was a murder. A jury in civil court agreed, finding Adam Shacknai, her boyfriend's brother, responsible for her "wrongful death" and awarding the family $5 million.

Lingering questions abound: Was the investigation bungled? Were mistakes made? Were some items not tested for DNA or overlooked? And will Rebecca's family ever get the satisfaction of finding out the truth?

"Death on Ocean Boulevard" delves into this controversial death which captivated the nation's attention. Was it motivated by greed, anger, jealousy or sex? Zahau's boyfriend, the wealthy pharmaceutical company owner, Jonah Shacknai was suspected, as well as his ex-wife Dina and her twin sister Nina.

Rother will speak about the real-life mystery and her book, Saturday, Jan. 21, at Pala Mesa Resort. The event, the Community Read, is sponsored by Friends of Fallbrook Library. Questions about Zahau's death have been hotly debated for the past 10 years. It was recently reported in the San Diego Union Tribune that the case may again be opened as a homicide and new investigations conducted. Has more evidence been uncovered?

Rother will discuss all the shocking revelations of the case with any up-to-date information concerning the new investigation. The book is now under development as a limited TV series with Rother as executive producer along with Untitled Entertainment.

Additionally, she has announced that she has accepted an offer to write a book titled "The Bone: The Mysterious Murder of the McStay Family." It will cover the tragic story that gripped the nation and Fallbrook in particular. Joseph McStay, his wife Summer and their two young sons went missing from their home in Fallbrook in February 2010.

Nearly four years later, their skeletal remains were discovered in the high desert of San Bernardino County, and McStay's business partner, Charles "Chase" Merritt was found guilty of their murder and sentenced to death row. Some observers believe Merritt was wrongly convicted. Rother is currently incorporating a treasure trove of late-breaking information into her developing manuscript.

Rother worked for nearly 20 years for daily newspapers. Writing books full-time since 2006, she draws from decades of watchdog reporting on topics from addiction to suicide, mental illness, murder, government, political corruption and the criminal justice system. A popular speaker, she has appeared more than 250 times on TV, radio and podcasts as a true crime expert. In addition, she has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her investigative reporting.

Doors for the Community Read will open at 11:30 a.m., with a light lunch at noon. After lunch the author will speak about her books and answer questions, followed by a book signing. Copies of the books will be available for purchase at the event.

Tickets are $35 with no service fee and are available online, The Bottom Shelf book store at the Fallbrook library located at 124 S. Mission Road will also be available to assist with purchasing tickets. Seating is limited.

Questions about the Community Read may be directed to either Nancy Javier at [email protected] or Helen McHargue at [email protected].

Submitted by Friends of Fallbrook Library.


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