Doctor Maurice Godwin, Ph.D., a former police officer, respected forensics expert, criminologist, and profiler has discovered shoe print impressions on a courtyard balcony of the beachfront mansion in Coronado, CA owned at the time by pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai, from which the naked, bound, gagged, and deceased body of Rebecca Zahau was found hanging on the morning of Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
While the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has determined the 32-year-old woman’s death was the result of a suicide, allegedly brought on by guilt and depression over injuries suffered by 6-year-old Maxfield Shacknai in a fall two days earlier, as the child was being looked after by Ms. Zahau, Dr. Godwin has disclosed that he is certain footprint impressions he discovered in official crime scene photos are proof that the woman was murdered.
These photos are shown in the attached slide show which accompanies this report.
This article is based on original investigative reporting and exclusive statements made to us by Dr. Godwin on Tuesday, November 22, 2011. He officially worked as a consultant on the Rebecca Zahau case from September 4 until October 23, 2011.
Prior to that, Dr. Godwin, who received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Liverpool in Great Britain, had worked as a consultant to police and attorneys in crime scene assessment, developing psychological and geographical profiles, lecturing in the United States and Europe on serial murder and criminal investigative analysis, and writing a number of books and academic articles on profiling, serial murder, and crime scene investigations.
All quotes in this report are those of Dr. Godwin, and are displayed in bold type.
According to Dr. Godwin, and quoting directly from his statement to us, “The investigative value that the shoe ridges and footprint evidence has in this case, is compelling. The findings indicate that Rebecca was not alone on the balcony the night she died.”
“For example, no left footprints from Ms. Zahau were found on the balcony – not one. It is highly unlikely that Ms. Zahau maneuvered from the balcony door to the balcony railing on one foot. The absence of left footprints suggests that Ms. Zahau was likely lifted from behind and carried onto the balcony. This finding is supported by the partial unknown shoe ridges found on top and behind Rebecca’s footprints.”
While the original police investigation discounts the value of such evidence, and dismisses their validity in the time line of events on the morning that Ms. Zahau died, Dr. Godwin is unequivocal in their importance, pointing out “On close inspection the shoe print ridges on the right side are ON TOP of Rebecca’s right footprint, which suggests that the shoe prints were made after her footprint and not weeks or months earlier as some have suggested.”
Professor Godwin describes the scene with the laser precision of a trained eye, witnessing the mechanics of a crime.
Again, quoting from his chilling analysis, “The likely sequence of events involved the perpetrator carrying Rebecca from inside the room to the balcony door. The perpetrator then needed to get a better grip on the victim so he/she placed her down allowing only the right foot to make contact with the dusty floor – just at the entrance.”
“The perpetrator then lifted her up again and stepped forward towards the railing again setting the victim down for a second time allowing her right foot to make contact with the balcony floor. Rebecca was not alone that night on the balcony; the unidentified shoe ridge pattern is likely her killer’s.”
Even such a potentially important discovery has been compromised by apparent lapses in protecting the integrity of the crime scene.
According to Dr. Godwin, “The quality of any evidence found at a crime is all that police investigators have to work with. Sometimes the evidence is clear and visible and other times it is not.”
“While the unknown shoe ridges on the balcony are not clear, two sole ridge patterns are visible. The first shoe ridge pattern is located beside the officer’s boot print. These ridges are about 1/4-inch in width. Unfortunately the officer stepped on top of the unknown shoe print but some of the ridge detail is still visible. The second shoe ridge pattern helps establish that the shoe prints were made at the same time Rebecca was on the balcony.”
As seen in one of the attached slide show photos, “A new discovery can be seen in the photograph. This photograph is an enhanced image of Rebecca’s right foot impression, which is located to the right side of the balcony doorway. On close examination, which is indicated by the red arrow, there is a group of small partial ridges which extend beyond the outline of her footprint.”
“This likely indicates that the ridges are not skin ridges from Rebecca’s foot. What is most interesting is, this group of unknown ridge patterns are similar to the ridges found on the left side of the balcony door entrance. The shape of the ridge patterns to the left of the door likely indicates a perpetrator walking towards the balcony railing, while the shoe prints on the right side of the door indicates a perpetrator walking towards the balcony door opening.”
Dr. Godwin has even found a potential match for the alleged killer’s shoe print, that of a beach slipper known as an EVA flip-flop.
“The acronym ‘EVA’ stands for ‘Ethylene Vinyl Acetate Copolymer’. EVA is one of the quality soling products for the manufacture of various types of shoes. The EVA sole has been used in the shoe manufacturing industry for many years. The EVA basketweave sole, shown in the attached photo, is waterproof and 20mm in thickness (about 3/4 of an inch). It has a skid resistant tread pattern on the sole.”
This sends a clear message about the alleged killer, who can be linked to these sole impressions.
“The upper sole ridges of the EVA beach slipper which are larger in width are similar to the unidentified ridge pattern found on the balcony floor near the offender’s boot print. The heel pattern on the EVA beach slipper is similar to the small ridge lines found both at the balcony door entrance and on top of Rebecca’s right footprint – located on the right near the balcony entrance.”
“Investigators should be looking for individuals who may have had similar shoes. Considering the location of the mansion, across the street from the beach, it is conceivable that the perpetrator was wearing beach type shoes.”
In addition to analysis of shoe prints, Dr. Godwin has also done extensive probing and analysis into the movement of the bed leg in Rebecca’s second floor bedroom, and her state of mind, which apparently formed the basis of remarks made on that subject by Dr. Phil McGraw in his two-part television presentation about Ms. Zahau’s death.
A complete listing of Dr. Godwin’s disclosures can be found on his website.
For many people, this case is like watching a horror movie where the victim is unaware she is being stalked, and doesn’t see the intruder. The audience screams at the screen, trying to warn her. Just like many readers and the general public are screaming at Sheriff Bill Gore and the police, that someone is getting away with murder.
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