The death of a Google executive on a yacht is raising new questions about the death of a nightclub owner on the other side of the country — because of the possible role an alleged prostitute played in each case.
Alix Catherine Tichelman, 26, appeared in court Wednesday in Santa Cruz, California, where she faces a series of charges in the death of Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51. The married father of five was found dead in November on his 50-foot yacht. Authorities say Tichelman gave him an injection of heroin and then, as he began to die, she sipped her wine, gathered her belongings, and walked away.
She has not entered a plea.
Two months before Hayes died, Dean Riopelle, whom Tichelman identified online as her boyfriend, died at his home in Milton, Georgia. Tichelman was there at the time, and she called 911.
“Her story was: She was in the shower, heard a large crash, and then found him unconscious on the floor,” Capt. Shawn McCarty of Milton police told CNN Thursday.
“I think my boyfriend overdosed or something, he, like, he won’t respond,” she said in the brief call, shortly before hanging up.
The dispatcher called Tichelman back. Asked why she thought it was an overdose, Tichelman responded, “Because there’s nothing else it could be.” Asked whether it was accidental or intentional, she replied, “definitely accidental.” He was taking painkillers and “drinking a lot too,” she said.
The call cut off. The dispatcher tried at least twice more, but the phone rang and went to voicemail.
The medical examiner ruled Riopelle’s death an accidental overdose from heroin and alcohol. “At the time, we never thought anything different,” McCarty said.
Now authorities are taking a new look at that death “to make sure there’s nothing (else) to it,” he said.
Riopelle owned the Masquerade Nightclub in Atlanta.
Tichelman also was arrested last year in Atlanta and charged with battery and false report of a crime. The details of that incident were unclear.
Death of Google Glass executive
Hayes, 51, had an “ongoing prostitution relationship” with Tichelman, authorities say.
Online, Tichelman has boasted of having more than 200 client relationships.
Security footage from Hayes’ yacht shows her administer the injection and what happened afterward, as he was dying, police say.
“Rather than provide first aid or call 911, Ms. Tichelman proceeds to gather her belongings including the heroin and needles,” the police statement reads, adding that Tichelman stepped over Hayes’ body several times.
The video also shows Tichelman leaving the boat and then reaching back to lower a blind, concealing the victim’s body from outside view, police say.
At court Wednesday in Santa Cruz, she was charged with manslaughter, administering heroin to another person, administering bodily harm, moving heroin across county lines, possession of heroin, destroying or concealing evidence, and prostitution. A public defender asked that her arraignment be postponed until July 16.
Police came across Tichelman in the course of investigating the death of Hayes, a Google executive who, reports say, worked on the Google Glass project, among others.
Authorities became concerned that she planned to leave the state, so detectives posing as a potential client lured her to an “upscale location” for a July 4 session costing $1,000. She was arrested when she arrived.
Google did not return messages seeking comment. Apple, where reports say Hayes previously worked, declined comment.
“I was really devastated when I heard about it,” Todd Zion, who worked at Google for a short time under Hayes, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “He was a great boss. I never had a chance to thank him.”
‘Nice to talk with someone about killing sprees’
Tichelman describes herself as a model, makeup artist and writer on what appears to be her Facebook page. It says she formerly worked at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club and studied journalism at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
“It’s really nice to talk with someone about killing sprees and murdering people in cold blood…and they love it too,” a June 28 post on the page reads. “No judgement (sic). Yay! F**k all of that positivity bullsh**. Take a look around you. Life is hard and then you die.”
The profile includes numerous modeling shots of Tichelman, some of them in provocative poses. By midafternoon Wednesday, the page appeared to have been deleted.