Google exec's prostitute eyed over second death
KATHLEEN FOODY AND TERRY COLLINS
A high-priced prostitute charged in the overdose death of a Google executive aboard a yacht in California had searched online for how to legally defend herself after giving a lethal dose of heroin, police in California say.
Meanwhile, authorities in Georgia reopened another overdose case involving the same suspect, Alix Tichelman.
Bar owner Dean Riopelle, 53, died of a heroin overdose in September 2013 in Milton, Georgia, about two months before Google executive Forrest Hayes died of an overdose on his yacht. Both had been seeing Tichelman, authorities said.
Milton police Captain Shawn McCarty said Tichelman, 26, called emergency dispatchers on September 17 to report that Riopelle, her boyfriend, had overdosed. She told investigators that he had been drinking and using heroin throughout the day, and that she found him on the ground after she got out of a shower.
According to a police report, Tichelman said she tried to revive Riopelle for about five minutes before she called for help. She told police that he had been having a rough time but did not believe he overdosed intentionally.
Riopelle died a week later.
Tichelman has been described as a high-end prostitute by police in California, where she is charged with manslaughter in Hayes' death.
"Both subjects in these cases died of heroin overdoses so there's just several factors we want to look at to make sure that we didn't miss anything," McCarty said.
Just before Riopelle's death, Tichelman had been arrested on a battery charge after Riopelle told police that she bit his hand during an argument.
Riopelle had said that the woman took pills before they went to a bar he owned in Atlanta, where she drank, dove off the stage and exposed her breasts. After they returned to his home, they fought. She scratched his face and threatened to hit herself in the face and tell police he had done it, Riopelle said at the time.
In the California case, police say surveillance video shows Tichelman casually walking over Hayes as he lay dying on his yacht, picking up clothes and heroin and swallowing the last of a glass of wine before lowering the boat's blinds and walking back on the dock to shore.
Hayes was found dead by the captain of his 15-metre yacht last November. Police said the surveillance video from the yacht shows everything that happened from the time Tichelman came aboard to when she left.
Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said Hayes, 51, had hired Tichelman before, and that their November 23 encounter was a mutually consensual one, including the introduction of the heroin.
The video shows Tichelman preparing the heroin and injecting it into Hayes' arm. Shortly after, Hayes started clutching his chest, near his heart, Clark said. Tichelman tries to prop him up, but he then loses consciousness.
Tichelman then picks up her belongings, including the needle, and cleans up a counter while stepping over Hayes several times. During that time, Tichelman calmly drinks a glass of wine and surveys the scene, Clark said.
Tichelman then goes outside, looks back inside, pulls down a window blind, closes a door and leaves, Clark said.
"Never does she call 911 or call out to others in nearby boats for help. She never tries to administer any aid to him," Clark said about Tichelman. Clark added that investigators learned that Tichelman later did online searches "on how to defend herself after giving a lethal dose of heroin."
Tichelman was arrested on July 4 after police said a detective lured her back to the Santa Cruz area by posing as a potential client at an upscale resort.
Police said Tichelman boasted she had more than 200 clients and met them through a website that purports to connect wealthy men and women with attractive companions. Her clients included other Silicon Valley executives, Clark said. Silicon Valley is home to about 50 billionaires and tens of thousands of millionaires.
Tichelman's father has ties to the tech industry. Folsom software firm SynapSense announced hiring her father, Bart Tichelman in 2012. Neither the firm nor her father responded to immediate requests for comment.
She is being held on US$1.5 million (NZ$1.7m) bail after appearing in court on Wednesday (local time) wearing red jail scrubs.