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Police: Prostitute linked to boyfriend's death

July 10, 2014
dsp Associated Press

MILTON, Ga. (AP) — Georgia authorities are re-examining the 2013 heroin death of a bar owner dating the woman charged in the overdose death of a Google executive on a yacht in California, police said Thursday.

Dean Riopelle, 53, died of a heroin overdose in September 2013 in Milton, about two months before Google executive Forrest Hayes died of an overdose on his yacht.

Milton police Capt. Shawn McCarty said Thursday that Alix Tichelman, 26, called 911 on Sept. 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 the shower.

According to a police report, Tichelman said she tried to revive Riopelle for about five minutes before she called 911. 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. 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, on Sept. 6, Tichelman had been arrested on a battery charge after he 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 2008, Tichelman attended Georgia State University for two semesters but never graduated.

In California, police say surveillance video shows Tichelman casually walking over Hayes as he lay dying on his yacht, picking up her 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 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 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."

Clark said it appears this might not have been the first time she left someone in trouble without calling 911 or trying to help. Without elaborating, he said his agency is cooperating with police in a different state on a similar case.

It was not clear if he was referring to the case in Georgia.

"There's a pattern of behavior here where she doesn't seek help when someone is in trouble," he said.

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.

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.

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.

___

Associated Press reporters Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz, California, Michael Liedtke and Terry Collins in San Francisco, and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this story.

 
 

 

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