DEATH AT THE MANSION – The Final[e] Analysis [Part 2 of 3]

Many of those covering the Zahau case seem to be fixated on the knots, as well as demonstrating that they could be “self tied”. Personally I find the whole line of inquiry odd and unnecessary simply because there’s very little effort to replicate the exact bindings the way we see them in the crime scene photos.

In DEATH AT THE MANSION a fuss is made over the knot being at the top instead of at the bottom etc. It’s pedantic this late in the game to still be trying to prove it wasn’t suicide, but if you want to talk about the rope, look at how the rope is threaded under both the yellow and the black wristbands in this image.

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Ironically, I used to wear two wristbands when they were vogue, a black one and a yellow LIVE STRONG bracelet. They’re snug, they can stretch a little, but it would be impossible to tie the sort of knots under two of these wristbands.


Remember Adam Shacknai saying he had to move “something” out of the way when reaching for Rebecca’s pulse? That statement always struck me as odd, and completely unnecessary to say. I’d assumed he was referring to the rope, but felt that didn’t make sense, because obviously he had to move the rope away. This seems to be a potential slip of the tongue. Whoever killed Rebecca had to navigate under those wristbands when securing her wrists together. That’s what had to be moved out the way and threaded inside and under, not once, but numerous times.

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DEATH AT THE MANSION – The Final[e] Analysis [WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES] [Part 1 of 3]

It’s always difficult presenting graphic autopsy images in an appropriate way. There’s nothing “appropriate” about death, and so there’s no way to do this that doesn’t feel uncomfortable.

In True Crime the cadaver is often by far the most important source of evidence. It’s also the surest way to feel the scale and scope of a crime from the victim’s perspective. It’s shocking, and it should be. It should disturb us.

In DEATH AT THE MANSION the wound to Rebecca’s neck is shown. Without seeing this wound firsthand it would be difficult to appreciate the injury even with a technical description.

What we do see is a very severe asymmetrical gash caused by the rope into the right side of the neck [Rebecca’s left side]. This immediately suggests two scenarios:

  1. Rebecca was hanging in a lopsided fashion [similar to how she is seen laying on the lawn, and also with her head turned slightly].
  2. Rebecca seemed to have been dropped fairly rapidly to create the gash in the first place.

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If we imagine Rebecca hanging “lopsidedly”, we see her knees bent upwards even though gravity ought to be pulling her legs down. It also means her head is turned at an angle that is at odds with how it should look if she had hung herself.

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This suggests she was cut down not only to dramatize a theatrical rescue [even though she was clearly dead], but because if she had been found hanging, the unnatural position would immediately arouse suspicion. If Rebecca was killed close to 03:00, then, if she was hung relatively late, close to sunrise or shortly before Adam called 911, then her body may have had several hours to stiffen in the position she was bound and strangled in.

From the perspective of neighbor’s noticing something and alerting the cops before her murderer “was ready”, we can imagine leaving the staging of the suicide until the last possible moment. Does that make sense?

Although it’s debatable whether in practice law enforcement could have or should have done a reverse suicide staging in situ, if Rebecca was hung up again, this could have “proved” the above point – that immediately on sight, seeing her hanging, the cops would have realized the suicide didn’t look right. However significant tissue damage would have been incurred in such an exercise.

From the original Case File images, a black and white image presents a very different view of Rebecca’s face and neck than the autopsy photo. Her eyes are slightly open and her mouth wide open either from the shirt stuffed in her mouth, or Adam performing CPR or both. Contrast her mouth with the above image where her lips are obviously closed.

The use of the shirt might also be to conceal or minimize the ugliness of the hanging wound after the fact.

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Nahida Manzoor “Summit Photo”: Liespotting and Crooked Photospotting – it takes a keen eye [and ear]

At first glance, one can be forgiven for assuming there might be two different people in these summit photos. Summit Photos on Mount Everest are a dime a dozen. Everyone sort of looks the same, the setting is similarly snowy but basically nondescript. Even the climbers might as well be wearing burkas – they’re usually almost impossible to identify behind their gas masks and sun visors. The main indicator tends to be the color of their suits and the signs they hold aloft identifying who they are and where they are.

It’s precisely because of these limiting factors that summit photos are so easy to fake. So it’s not surprising there’s a storied history when it comes to fake Summit Photos on Mount Everest and faked ascents in general.

After Faking ‘Historic’ Everest Climb, This Couple Was Banned From Nepal Mountains – Huffington Post

Photoshopped images, false claims: Everest ascents too easy to fake? – Hindustan Times

Most brazen Photoshop fakes we’ve ever seen – Metro

FAKING MOUNT EVEREST? – Adventure Alternative

Yes, This Photo from Everest Is Real – Outside

Three Indian climbers make fake Everest summit claim? – The Himalayan

Swiss Climber’s Feat Honored Despite Lack of Proof – The New York Times

Let’s take a closer look at Nahida Manzoor’s effort here, just to get an idea how much work went into this [or…ahem…didn’t].

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The first indicator that this is a staged photo is the basic layout. Same flag, same bent poster [same size, same bends and creases] and, though less easy to see in the cropped version, the climber is in the exact same position too. Look at the angle of the right leg compared to the left in both images.

Looking closer the fakery becomes a lot more obvious.

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All the idiosyncrasies in Bhawna Dehariya’s image are repeated in Manzoor’s. Moving from top to bottom and left to right:

  1. The crease in the Indian flag, and the angle of orange streaking downward is identical.
  2. The angle of the orange part of the flag touching against the climber’s shoulder is the same in both images.
  3. The angle of the opaque container jutting out beside the climber’s cheek is the same in both images.
  4. The ridge of snow in the background is the same, and photographed from exactly the same angle.
  5. To the left of the poster is a small piece of triangular collar from the climbing suit jutting out. This is the first indication of mischief, where the original climbing suit has been clumsily edited out and replaced with a red suit. Notice how fuzzy the red suit is compared to the original suit in the original image.
  6. The edge of a green plastic thingy beside the gloved hand of the climber is almost cropped out, but not quite.
  7. Notice how the black gloves – both of them, in both images – are identical.
  8. A black zip tag protruding perpendicularly is visible in both images on the underside of the right-hand glove.
  9. All four corners of the poster are uniquely bent in both images.
  10. A black strap, possibly part of the climbing suit belt, protrudes from the same area at the same angle in both images.
  11. Ditto a yellow prayer flag.
  12. A line of red rope emerges in shadow beneath the poster. The image is deliberately cut off where the rope enters the sunlight, and to remove the idiosyncratic climbing gear in the foreground.

That’s 12, that’s enough.

There is one more aspect to point out, arguably, the most obvious of all: the script on the poster. It lists half a dozen sponsors. The names of the sponsors are just about bigger than Manzoor’s name and EVEREST 2019 which is telling, isn’t it?

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In mountaineering the stakes are high, and the higher the mountain the higher the stakes. Lives, reputations and fortunes are often at stake. Manzoor obviously felt pressure from her sponsors, especially the Department of Tourism, to give them their due publicity-wise, no matter what. One wonders whether the DoT put Manzoor up to it, or pressured her to do it, or whether Manzoor did this entirely at her own initiative.

Over the course of writing the NEVEREST series [a trilogy dealing with the deadly ’96 Everest disaster as a crime scene], and climbing Kilimanjaro myself in the mid-90’s, I’ve experienced the lack of ethics and honesty on mountains firsthand. What ought to a theater for heroism often turns into a Lord of the Flies fest. The New York Times recently likened Everest to a zoo. And each year it’s getting worse.

In 2016 I worked with the world famous and much beloved Alpinist Ueli Steck, nicknamed “the Swiss Machine”. Although Ueli undoubtedly achieved dizzying achievements in mountaineering, there remains some doubt and controversy about whether one of his most amazing – on Annapurna – actually happened.

…in October 2013, Kelly McMillan reported for the New York Times that, “Steck didn’t have a photo of the summit; his altimeter had broken during his ascent; and he hadn’t used a G.P.S. tracker, all of which are accepted means of documenting such a climb…”

Watch Ueli Steck’s Ascent of Annapurna’s South Face – Climbing



The second book of the Red Rope series was terrifically difficult to write. There was a simpler alternative which would have been easier to write, but that – I felt – would be cheating. I wanted to do due diligence to a much more complicated dynamic, and to be honest, when I started it I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make sense of it.

The Death at the Mansion series provided some useful and prescient insights that I hadn’t encountered before. Audio recordings of Jonah Shacknai’s police statement helped in the process of unraveling certain psychological mechanisms underlying this case.

Do we know all there is to know about this case? No, but we’re getting there.

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Are you a True Crime Rocket Scientist? Test Your Observation Skills on this Everest Summit Photo

Photographic staging and covering up goes hand in hand with the misdirection of staging a crime scene.

When it comes to doctored photos, there are two basic aspects to look at.

1. Is the image definitely altered? If so what has been altered, and how has it been altered? What hasn’t been altered?


2. The second aspect to figure out is why.

The image above has been doctored. There are a few obvious telltale clues that reveal these changes, as well as less obvious objects in the original that are the same in both photos. Look closely and carefully. Can you identify all the “mistakes” – the giveaways – in the doctored photo? Answer by leaving a comment below.


Why would this climber go to lengths to doctor this particular image in the first place? Think about it without context. What is the climber trying to prove? Where is he/she? Who is he/she? Why is it important to know the context? More context here.

Throughout history, photos have been doctored as a form of politics and propaganda.

Why is it historically so important to mislead the masses in these instances? More context here.

Which high-profile true crimes involve photo manipulation, or photos and video simply not being provided to law enforcement, or both? Which high-profile criminals are known to “play to the cameras”, or to be more accurate, paid for PR to “restore” their image?


A classic example of all of these is O.J. Simpson. Remember the ugly ass shoes that were supposedly worn at the crime scene by Nicole Brown’s killer, but not by O.J.? It’s through photos that they were linked to O.J. Remember how O.J.’s defense made his home appear blacker, for example by putting a painting of Rosa Park prominently in O.J.’s home for the benefit of the mostly black jury, when they visited his Rockingham home.

Meanwhile the media – TIME in particular – were rapped on the knuckles for deliberately trying to make OJ appear blacker than he really was. And then there was O.J. himself explaining away things like bloodied gloves and photos of bruises Nicole Brown had recorded of herself.

Listen to the clip below.

Probably the most elaborate cases of staging and misdirection are the Ramsey and McCann cases, and both also include the selective release and censoring of certain family photos.

There’s also a relationship, just as we see in the O.J. Simpson case, between the staging and pageantry we see in court, and the staging of the home/crime scene. In this the media, lawyers, PR folks and invariably the suspects themselves are active players and co-conspirators.

When all work together, the shadowy veil tends to distort reality. But when one area of the pageantry doesn’t fit, the whole veil can turn to dust.

The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey

More: Defense attacks prosecution’s case; says Simpson was framed

Barbara Walters discusses staging O.J.’s home for the jury

O.J. Simpson’s Motive revealed

How the O.J. Simpson Case Explains Reality in 2016

New “Last Photo” of JonBenet Ramsey has just been released – and there’s a problem…

Why it’s Obvious the McCanns’ “Last Photo” is Fake

Why it’s Obvious the McCanns’ “Last Photo” is Fake

According to the McCanns, this is the last photo of Madeleine – taken hours before she was snatched, on the day she was snatched: May 3rd, 2007.


But it’s more likely this is the first photo taken at Praia da Luz of the little girl on holiday. In other words, it was probably taken on April 28th within a few minutes of their arrival from the airport, or the next day, April 29th, at the latest.

Look at Gerry McCann’s skintone on his face and hands on May 4th:



Gerry McCann on May 18th, 2007 [below]:


If the last photo is fake, why is it fake? There are a few reasons why this photo may be chosen as the “last photo”. The most important is that Madeleine appears happy. It’s a “happy family photo”. If this photo wasn’t taken at the end of the holiday, then it suggests there weren’t photos of Madeleine later on in the trip where she appeared happy, or in a “holiday” setting. This would in turn raise worrying possibilities – that for whatever reason, the children, the family, weren’t getting along as well as they should. And this in turn might turn into concern about things like sleeping habits, the child’s behaviour, discipline and the possibility of parents sedating their children at night.

All of these, incidentally, were issues raised by the Portuguese cops.

So the Last Photo is a big deal. If the Last Photo isn’t what it purports to be, what else is a misdirection?

I’m not convinced Gerry is wearing the same shirt at the Ocean Club pool as he was on the bus. The tone is slightly greyer and lighter, and the sleeves seem longrt, and more creased. It’s not impossible though.

Madeleine [and Amelie] have clearly changed their clothing from what they wore on the flight from East Midlands Airport:


But the aspect I want to highlight is the most obvious. Why are the skins of all three people in this image so pink?


If the McCanns arrived on April 28th, then this image was taken on Day 6 of their holiday. It sure doesn’t look like they’ve been on holiday in the Algarve for 6 days, does it?

I traveled to Praia da Luz this year, arriving on the night of May 1st. By the end of Day 1 I’d already gotten a hectic sunburn to my neck and arms. The skin wasn’t merely a tone or two darker, it had actually burned red on the first day. This was despite flying in from South Africa, at the end of a summer there.

Although I’d brought a cap for the sun, and the weather in early May in the Algarve is fairly mild, a few days later I bought a wide-brimmed straw hat [I still have it] and Factor 50 sunblock. In no time at all I’d developed a sandal tan on my feet, and a short sleeve tan. Though the nights are chilly the days in early May can be warm, and if one lounges in the sun, the sun can be blazing hot.

The three individuals pictured above look as though they’ve just arrived in Praia da Luz. They look as if its’s their first day in the sun, and the first time at the pool.

When I arrived the first thing I said to a guest on the first morning [she had come from the pool] was: ‘Is the water warm?’ Her answer: ‘Are you kidding?’

More: What to make of the “Last Photo” of Madeleine McCann?

Proof! The ‘Last Photo’ is Fake

The £20 million Pedophile-Adbuctor themed Netflix Series, “Cops closing in on new prime suspect” and McCann case [GASP!] “close to a breakthrough” – the timing is all quite odd, don’t you think?

There has been a definite uptick in McCann-related PR this year. 2019 is the 12 year anniversary, so it’s not a numbers thing or anniversary thing. What it is is an Influence Campaign.

Sometime this year the European Court of Human Rights will rule on whether Portugal owes the McCanns money because the lead detective slandered them. Or it will rule that he didn’t. Whatever the ruling it will be huge because effectively it will be the last word in the McCann case. Imagine if the last word is that the lead detective was “right”? Because that will – at least symbolically – be the message behind the verdict. That could leave the legacy of McCann-related PR in tatters.

2019 has been a remarkable year so far in terms of coverage – PR and Investigative Reporting – on the McCann case. We’ve seen a crazy expensive Netflix series. Who paid for it, by the way? We’ve seen a lot of disconcerting bullshit peddled and recycled in the MSM media – still using the McCanns as a cash cow and playing the public for fools. Who is in charge of that? Who are the editors and reporters?

When this is all over, assuming it will be over, will be the media be called to account via an Authentic Inquiry for intentionally and cynically misleading the public to line their own pockets?

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We’ve also seen an incredible offer from the world’s foremost DNA scientist, Dr Mark Perlin, to reexamine critical evidence. Even more incredible is the craven silence in “response” to this gesture; this from the folks at the center of the world’s most expensive missing person’s investigation in True Crime history.

Despite Dr. Perlin’s offer [to check the data for free], Scotland Yard apparently have far more serious suspects to pursue, and are far too busy with this to even respond to the offer.

One of their recent leads – announced on May 3rd [in Portugal] would you believe – was of a German pedophile who, unfortunately for the Pedophile Abductor narrative, appears to have a preference for young boys. The McCann case is famous for always having a brand new abductor every few months. Each promising new lead becomes a dead end only to lead to another BRAND NEW SUSPECT IDENTIFIED.

What’s bizarre is Martin Smith identified Gerry McCann right in the beginning, as someone he saw on the night of May 3rd, just before 22:00, carrying a child that fit the description of Madeleine McCann. Smith was able to guess the child’s age because he had a child of similar age himself. This is the one lead that had never been followed up. In a 12-year unsolved case, isn’t it time it was followed up?

But just like the DNA offer, it seems when it comes to this case the Official Investigation has its Eyes Wide Shut and the money just keeps rolling in, doesn’t it?

In True Crime there’s no such thing as coincidence, and when it’s as high-profile as this case, the stakes couldn’t be higher, or the motives lower.

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More: Old Ploy, New Game: How the McCanns are using PR [again] to influence a legal outcome that affects THEM

Parents Of Madeleine McCann Owe Legal Fines Following Libel Court Battle – Ladbible

Three easy questions that could help answer what happened to Madeleine – 9News

“Rebecca Zahau was probably sexually assaulted…” No, she probably wasn’t.

In the run-up to the finale of 4-part Death at the Mansion series, the idea of a sexual assault has come up again. The Zahau family attorney – Keith Greer – believes the case “had the appearance” of sexual assault. That’s true, but there’s a difference between sexual assault and a staged sexual assault.

Evidence That Points To Rebecca Zahau’s Death Being A Sexually-Motivated Homicide– Oxygen

Expert Witness Believes Rebecca Zahau Was Sexually Assaulted Despite Official Findings – Oxygen

Attorney claims further analysis of evidence disproves Coronado mansion suicide – Fox5

Obviously there are multiple “symptoms” to infer a sexual assault. Pornography was viewed on the night or morning of the murder [exactly when this occurred is strangely still unknown]. Adam Shacknai admits he masturbated to Asian pornography on his phone just before discovering and touching the body.

Adam testified that “with some embarrassment and hesitation” he told the officer he had masturbated that morning before finding Rebecca’s body. He also stated that believes he took a shower. Next, Adam said that he left the guest house and intended to walk to a nearby area to get a cup of coffee. It was at that time that Adam said he saw Rebecca’s body hanging from the second-story balcony.

If Adam’s semen or any of his DNA was found on the victim, he had not one but two handy explanations: he’d masturbated immediately prior, and he was performing CPR on the victim when the cops arrived. Plausible deniability.

But apparently a Hewlett-Packard laptop belonging to Rebecca in the guest room also showed searches for lesbian and anime pornography in the 24 hours prior to Rebecca’s death.

There are also the self-evident aspects of sexual assault:

“Beautiful woman, naked, bound, gagged, hands tied behind her back, hung off in this very demeaning manner, but then the sexual assault became apparent,” Greer said. At the civil trial, forensic specialist Lisa DiMeo, formerly of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, was called by Greer. DiMeo testified that Zahau’s menstrual blood was on all four sides of the knife handle that was found at the scene.

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Greer alleged at the civil trial that the blood being on all four sides of the handle indicated a sexual assault.“The only source would’ve been if she was sexually assaulted, because it was menstrual fluid,” Greer said.

Greer also references the possibility that someone pinched Rebecca’s breasts. Since no black paint was found on Rebecca’s fingertips, it’s likely someone else – the same person who applied the message on the door, possibly – pinched Rebecca’s breasts.

Rich Williams, of the sheriff’s department homicide unit, reviewed the case with other agencies, following the civil trial. At a 2018 news conference, Williams said that no evidence of a sexual assault was found in either autopsy. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office said in a presentation from July 2011 that their findings indicated “no evidence of a struggle or a sexual assault and no other significant injuries.”

So which is it? No evidence or is there evidence? Well, it’s a bit of both. It’s tempting to imagine that Adam Shacknai, and only Adam Shacknai, committed the sexual assault. He was there. He had opportunity. Who else would do it? And Rebecca Zahau was a much younger, and attractive woman. But it’s also simplistic. Would Adam simply engage with his brother’s girlfriend sexually, then murder her, then stage it to look like a suicide, and then expect his brother of all people to not only believe him, but support him? If he was the only one there, who else could have murdered Rebecca except him? Well, maybe Rebecca… Just as the notion of suicide in itself isn’t impossible, but we would argue, improbable, the notion of sexual assault isn’t impossible, but we need to look deeper and harder to see if it’s reasonably, possibly true.

Is it?

The TCRS position isn’t that Adam is guilty or innocent of sexual assault per se, it’s that someone else might be too. If we look at the “evidence” of sexual assault, it includes the handle of a knife covered in menstrual blood, and Rebecca’s breasts pinched with fingers dabbed in black paint. But what are we talking about here? Rebecca doesn’t seem to have been raped. If someone attacked her for sexual gratification, it appears he [or she] forgot to sexually gratify himself [or herself].

The obvious place to commit a sexual assault would be on Rebecca’s bed. There is no evidence of a struggle on her bed. And the only explicit sign of a struggle in the guest bedroom is a wicker chair turned over, and even that may be part of staging – to make it look like there was a struggle.

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So was there a struggle or wasn’t there?

There was undoubtedly a confrontation where Rebecca was chased, attacked, subdued [hit over the head four times] and eventually strangled. She may have been bound in a rudimentary way at first, then bound with the ski rope after the fact. It may be that during a period of torture she was taunted in a sexually demeaning way. Part of this may have included removing her clothes unless she wasn’t naked already.

Which is more likely – would a man or a woman insert a knife handle into a woman’s genitals in order to degrade her? It’s also possible once the attack and strangling was over, once Rebecca was already dead, someone staged the appearance of a sexual attack, purposefully leaving the knife – smeared with blood – where it was left, perhaps to implicate a third party. Because who is more likely to assault a beautiful woman? A man spending the night in the neighboring guest house, or some other woman?

And did the third party then – faced with this inculpatory evidence – try to reverse the implications, by staging things to implicate someone else…?