Rebecca Zahau

Date of death: 07/13/2011
Location: Coronado, California

Disclaimer: Tarot readings should not be taken as absolute claims that something did or did not happen. I only report the meaning of the cards, their relationships and the meaning in the context of those relationships, as well as intuitions I have based entirely on the cards presented in the reading. Tarot reading is an art and not a science.


On July 13th of 2011, a woman named Rebecca Zahau (also referred to as Rebecca Nalepa) was found hanging at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California. She lived with her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai.

Question: Who caused Rebecca’s death?

Row 1
9 of Cups – 10 of Cups – 4 of Swords

Row 2
7 of Swords (reversed) – Ace of Pentacles – King of Swords (reversed)
Card pulled for the King of Swords (r): Strength (reversed)

Row 3
6 of Pentacles (reversed) – King of Wands – Empress
Card pulled for the King of Wands: 9 of Pentacles


So I can tell you right now that the reading is conveying to me that this was a murder. This was not a suicide. I’ll get into that in more detail shortly, but I knew the answer to my question before I even processed the entire reading because of the appearance of the Empress at the end. It’s a tarot reading. It is not proof of anything, but this reading is a clear one to me. It is one of the more straight forward ones I have interpreted in recent times.

The Nine of Cups, appearing at the start of the reading, tells me that Rebecca was happy before the events that transpired with her boyfriend’s young son, Max. Max’s death was ruled as accidental – stemming from injuries he sustained inside the house while he was playing. So before Max became critically injured (I believe that he died within days of Rebecca’s death), Rebecca was happy. She felt she had a good life, she felt thankful for it, and things were going well.

The Ten of Cups really serves to emphasize that Rebecca had a happy home life. Her relationship with Jonah appears to have been solid and it is not reading as a dysfunctional situation/household/relationship. It shows her as having been invested emotionally and that she had a desire to contribute to a positive environment.

The Four of Swords shows me that at the time of Rebecca’s death, she was definitely stressed and feeling overwhelmed. She was in a state where she was trying to cope with everything that was happening, and she was trying to gather the energy she felt she would need to help others do the same.

The Seven of Swords reversed shows that the person responsible for her death – and it is not Rebecca – is someone who was or is two-faced, a pathological liar, and a whole host of other unpleasant descriptors. The person who murdered her should have been apprehended and held criminally liable quickly, but it seems that did not happen.

The person responsible was either someone known or related to Jonah or Rebecca. They were seeking a new start – particularly as far as jobs and money were concerned. The Ace of Pentacles shows me this. The card is also suggesting that financial or material factors played a role in protecting the person or people involved (you will understand why I am putting “people” out there as a possibility soon).

The King of Swords reversed represents the person who actually committed the crime. The corresponding card is Strength reversed. It communicates that this person made Rebecca feel helpless and victimized. This person is directly responsible. The King of Swords reversed is a person who manipulates situations and people – primarily through their words or methods of communicating.

The Six of Pentacles reversed shows a scenario where the person mentioned above was abusing or taking advantage of someone else’s generosity. I don’t know all the specifics on that aspect, but there was an imbalance in terms of financial or material resources. And this factors into all of this, though I don’t yet understand exactly how.

The King of Wands, in its upright position, is making an appearance before the reading is finished and I am not sure if this is because this person is involved in some way or if it is because they have information or knowledge that would expose the person who committed the murder. The Nine of Pentacles, pulled in combination with the King, shows me someone who is doing well financially and is self-reliant. They had, or have, a good amount of financial or material freedom is how I would describe it. It reads like it might be Rebecca’s boyfriend, but I’m not in a position to say for sure. Because I don’t know, and this reading is not providing full clarity here.

The Empress is a card that I often get at the end – or close to the end – of readings where a murder has occurred. Before I started publishing readings, I spent a lot of time practicing on cases that had already been solved – particularly ones I knew little about before I did the readings. Then I would go back and see what interpretations were right and try to learn from the ones that I got wrong. I refer to those as after-the-fact readings because they really only serve to help me understand what specific cards are likely to mean in readings where the answers have not yet been uncovered. This card, combined with other give-away cards pointing to murder, is how and why I feel confident saying that I believe Rebecca did not cause her own death. This was not a suicide. Another person caused her death and it was deliberate.


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