SAN DIEGO, CA - The girlfriend of a pharmaceutical company CEO was found dead at a historic California mansion , her nude body hanging from a balcony with her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound, investigators said Thursday.
Rebecca Nalepa, 32, was discovered at the Coronado home of her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, chairman and chief executive of Medicis Pharmaceuticals Corp., an Arizona-based company that makes acne and facial wrinkle treatments.
Investigators have not determined if Nalepa was a crime victim and have not ruled out suicide, said San Diego County sheriff's Capt. Tim Curran. He declined to comment on the evidence.
"This is a very bizarre death, there's no doubt about it," Curran said at a news conference. "There is roughly 200 years of experience in the sheriff's homicide unit, and they all agree these are very unusual circumstances."
Shacknai's brother, Adam, called 911 Wednesday to report the woman appeared to be dead, Curran said. The brother was staying in a mansion guesthouse. Jonah Shacknai was not at home.
Curran said sheriff's investigators have not established any connection between the woman's death and a serious injury at the home two days earlier to Jonah Shacknai's 6-year-old son with his ex-wife.
On Monday, paramedics found the boy was not breathing and did not have a pulse after falling down some stairs, said Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon.
The boy was being treated at Rady's Children's Hospital San Diego. Hospital spokesman Carlos Delgado declined to comment on his condition.
"At that time, and at this time, we have no information that would lead us to believe that this is anything other than a tragic accident with the child," Scanlon said.
Scanlon said a woman at the home called authorities when the boy fell, but he didn't know if the caller was Nalepa.
The 27-room Spreckels mansion was built in 1908 and originally owned by John D. Spreckels, owner of the majestic Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego Union and San Diego Tribune newspapers.
Coronado, a wealthy seaside suburb of about 24,000 people on San Diego Bay, had one homicide last year. The Police Department, which doesn't have a homicide unit, asked the Sheriff's Department to help with the investigation.
Jonah Shacknai, 54, founded Medicis and has been chairman and CEO since 1988. The company's products include acne treatments Solodyn and Ziana and facial wrinkle treatment Restylane.
Medicis, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened to learn of a tragic incident at a California property owned by Jonah Shacknai."
The company declined further comment and asked that the family's privacy be respected.
Did You Hear?
A mentally disabled woman and her child were held in an Ohio apartment for two years, forced to perform manual labor and threatened with dogs and snakes to keep them compliant, federal authorities said Tuesday.