SAN DIEGO – The girlfriend of a pharmaceutical company executive was found dead at a historic California mansion, her nude body hanging from a rope on a second-floor balcony with her hands tied behind her back and her feet bound.
Rebecca Nalepa's body was discovered at the Coronado home of 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.
"The circumstances are bizarre, you could tell this was unusual, but (suicide) is a possibility," San Diego County Sheriff's Capt. Tim Curran said Thursday.
Curran declined to comment on the evidence. He said no one was considered a suspect.
Shacknai's brother, Adam, called 911 Wednesday to report the 32-year-old 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. He called it a "tragic accident."
The boy was being treated at Rady's Children's Hospital San Diego. Hospital spokesman Carlos Delgado declined to comment on his condition Thursday.
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."
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