Posted: 5:13 p.m. Thursday, July 10, 2014

Georgia authorities reopen death case involving Santa Cruz call girl

Alix Tichelman
KTVU.com Staff
Alix Tichelman

KTVU and AP Wires

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. —

Georgia authorities Thursday reopened a case involving a call girl who is charged in the heroin overdose death of a Google executive aboard a yacht in Santa Cruz Harbor.

Capt. Shawn McCarty of the Milton, Georgia, police department told CNN his investigators had reopened the case involving the death of Atlanta club owner Dean Riopelle.

At the time of Riopelle death in September 2013, Alix Tichelman was living with him at his home in Milton.

“We had been contacted by detectives in Santa Cruz when they were looking into Ms. Tichelman’s background, seeing if anything came from their investigation to the death here,” he told CNN. “We’ll be looking at it again to make sure there’s nothing to it.”

McCarty said the medical examiner ruled Riopelle’s death as an accidental overdose from heroin and alcohol.

“At the time, we never thought anything different,” he said.

McCarty said that Tichelman actually was the person who called to report Riopelle was in medical distress.

“She was there at the time, she was the one who actually called 911,” he told CNN. “Her story was, she was in in the shower, heard a large crash, and then found him unconscious on the floor. She tried to wake him up, then called 911.”

Recordings of her 911 call after she found Riopelle resurfaced on Thursday.

"I think my boyfriend overdosed or something. Like, he won't respond. And he's just laying on the ground. I don't know," Tichelman is heard saying on the recording.

The 911 conversation continued with Tichelman sounding very sure of what happened. When the dispatcher asks her why she thought it was an overdose, she responded "Because there's nothing else it could be. I know that for a fact."

The dispatcher then asks if the overdose was accidental or intentional.

"I think definitely accidental; accidental," Tichelman replied.

Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, authorities have charged the 26-year-old Tichelman with manslaughter Wednesday for her role in the death of Forrest Hayes, who was found dead by the captain of his 50-foot 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 told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Hayes, 51, had hired Tichelman before, and that their Nov. 23 encounter "was a mutually consensual encounter including the introduction of the heroin."

News vans gathered outside Hayes hilltop estate overlooking the glittering Monterey Bay, where the five-bedroom home is on the market for $4.2 million. Hayes' widow has not spoken publicly and a blog created in his memory was deleted.

On the website, friends and co-workers were seemingly unaware of how he died. They fondly described their time together, Christmas parties on his boat, engineering teams at Sun Microsystems, traveling to China for Apple and most recently at Google, where they said he was involved in the Glass eyewear projects.

Clark said it's not clear if Hayes was a frequent drug user, and that in the video, it appears he needed Tichelman to help him shoot up. Clark described Tichelman as a high-end prostitute, who charged $1,000 and lived three hours away in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom. .

He said she had other clients from Silicon Valley, home to about 50 billionaires and tens of thousands of millionaires.

"There's no question that Silicon Valley feels different than it felt 28 years ago when I moved here," said Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, an organization focused on the local economy and quality of life. "Something has happened. We used to be a Valley full of techies living middle class lives, and now we're a Valley of the uber-rich carrying toy poodles around with them."

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. Clark said they didn't just arrest her because they didn't know exactly where she lived, and they were concerned she would flee.

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.

California investigators also said Thursday that Tichelman searched online for information about how to legally defend herself after giving a lethal dose of heroin.

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 $1.5 million bail after appearing in court Wednesday wearing red jail scrubs. Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann approved a request from Tichelman's court appointed attorney, Diana August, to continue the arraignment until July 16.

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