Police arrested a 26-year-old high-priced call girl from Georgia on Friday after she shot heroin into a Santa Cruz tech executive on his yacht and fled when he overdosed.
Alix Catherine Tichelman and 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes found each other online and had met a few times before their Nov. 23 encounter on Hayes’ 50-foot yacht, Escape, at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.
Tichelman provided heroin for Hayes, a Google executive, while they were inside the yacht, police said. A surveillance video from the boat shows that Hayes was “suffering medical complications” and lost consciousness, Clark said. She made no effort to help him, and instead gathered her belongings and even gulped a glass of wine before she drew a window blind and left, the video shows.
Hayes was discovered dead the next morning by the boat’s captain, police said.
“She showed no regard for him. She was just trying to cover her tracks,” Clark said Tuesday.
After police identified Tichelman from the video, they tracked her down in Folsom and lured her back to Santa Cruz County in a prostitution sting at a lavish hotel, police said.
Tichelman was arrested Friday on suspicion of second-degree murder, destruction of evidence and transporting and providing narcotics, police said.
Asked if Tichelman was trying to kill Hayes or if the overdose was accidental, Clark said the evidence showed a level of guilt that reached second-degree murder rather than involuntary manslaughter.
“It’s an amazing case,” said Clark.
Hayes, originally from Dearborn, Michigan, worked in the auto industry early in his career. He lived in Santa Cruz for years and worked at technology giants such as Sun Microsystems, Apple and Google, according to his friends and family. He is survived by his wife of 17 years and his five children.
“Forrest will be remembered above all as a loving husband and father. More than anything else he enjoyed spending time with his family at home and on his boat,” according to a January obituary that his family wrote for the Sentinel. “His brilliant mind, contagious smile and warm embrace will be missed and cherished in memories by his friends and family.”
Hayes’ co-workers and friends described him as intelligent, a family man with a great sense of humor with a penchant for impulse buys.
Hayes once vented to a co-worker on a Friday about his 40-minute commute to Google in Mountain View and he said he wished he could use the carpool lane. By Monday, Hayes had bought a Chevy Volt hybrid to do just that.
“We all know Forrest, he is a very practical guy, yet impatient to fix the issue,” wrote Mahesh Krishnaswamy, on a memorial website in Hayes’ honor. “He always came up with fairly simple and elegant solutions — very candid in his opinion, yet reasonable in his judgment and caring with his interactions.”
Another friend said he sent Hayes a picture of a yacht for sale. Days later, Hayes had bought it.
Police declined to say when Hayes and Tichelman first crossed paths.
Authorities said they met on SeekingArrangement.com, which according to the website is, “for sugar daddies and sugar babies seeking mutually beneficial relationships and arrangements.”
Tichelman attended high school in Atlanta, according to her Facebook page. She describes herself on Facebook and Twitter as an aspiring model, makeup artist, writer, exotic dancer and a “hustler.” In January 2013, she posted on Facebook that “life is great, a great boyfriend, nice house, monkeys, loving family … doesn’t get any better than this i don’t think.”
She wrote that she attended a beauty school and also studied journalism at Georgia State University.
One of her Facebook pages contains an alias, AK Kennedy, and her social media posts range from poems about heroin to a love of the TV show “Dexter,” about a blood spatter technician who is also a serial killer. Pursed-lipped selfies show her posing with dyed red hair, tattoos and black lingerie. Police initially said her name was Tichleman.
“My eyes are red red red … combination of the glitter eyeliner and the medical grade I’ve been smokin’ on,” she tweeted in May 2013 — her last post.
After her November 2013 encounter with Hayes, Santa Cruz police combed Hayes’ yacht for evidence. Clark, the deputy police chief, said it was a challenge because Tichelman destroyed evidence or took it with her.
“She did some cleaning. She took some evidence from the scene,” Clark said.
Police discovered there were surveillance cameras inside and outside the yacht, yet the boat captain did not want to give the video to investigators because of the lurid nature of the case, authorities said.
Eventually, Santa Cruz police obtained a judge’s order to get the video recordings, which were stored on a cloud server, authorities said. The images helped them identify Tichelman, Clark said.
By then, Tichelman was living in Folsom. Santa Cruz police learned of another similar death outside California that Tichelman allegedly was involved with, which further piqued investigators’ interest, Clark said. She has not been charged in that case, and authorities declined to say where it was.
In recent months, Santa Cruz police tried to lure Tichelman back to Santa Cruz County by setting up a modeling gig, but “it was going to take us too long to make it a believable scenario,” said Clark.
Police were concerned that she might leave the state, so investigators essentially convinced her that a rich client would pay her more than $1,000 for sex. She arranged to rendezvous with the fictitious wealthy man at a high-end hotel in Santa Cruz County on the Fourth of July, police said. Authorities declined to name the hotel.
Police met her there, arrested her and took her to the Santa Cruz police station for questioning. After extensive interviews, Tichelman was linked to Hayes’ homicide, Clark said.
She remained in Santa Cruz County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $1.5 million bail, according to jail records. She is expected to be arraigned in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on Wednesday, according to court records.
Clark said Tichelman supplied drugs to Hayes and was responsible for his death.
“She showed absolutely no regard for this person she injected with heroin,” Clark said.
“She had a responsibility to provide some lifesaving effort.”