Bloody knife in car of ex-Penthouse model found dead on beach
A former Penthouse model whose body washed ashore at Camp Pendleton earlier this year does not appear to be the victim of a homicide or sexual assault, but many aspects of her case -- including a bloody knife -- remain a mystery, investigators said.
The body of 58-year-old Anneka Vasta, also known as Anneka Di Lorenzo, was found Jan. 4 on Gold Beach. An autopsy later concluded that she had suffered a broken neck and back before she drowned.
But it remains unclear how Vasta got down to the beach from a 50-foot-tall bluff and why she had checked in to a motel in Carlsbad. Her car was found at the scenic overlook.
A knife with a small bit of blood on it was found in her car. Vasta's body had superficial cuts on the wrists and two shallow wounds on her chest, which may have come from a failed attempt at suicide, according to the autopsy.
Jason Keller, special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and fellow agent Rachel McGranaghan said that nothing in numerous interviews with Vasta's friends and relatives suggested that the Sherman Oaks resident had met with foul play.
Vasta was Penthouse Pet of the Year in 1975 and then had a brief career in movies. She dated Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later sued him for sexual harassment. He reportedly retaliated by publishing pictures of her in a lesbian love scene from one of her movies.
In recent years, however, Vasta had had financial problems and was "emotionally fragile," the investigators said.
She was found naked, face down in the sand on a stretch of beach used by the Marine Corps for training. Because the death occurred on military property, the NCIS launched an investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call (760 725-5150).
-- Tony Perry in San Diego