The details uncovered by investigators portray Alix Catherine Tichelman as a callous, calculating killer. Her mugshot reveals piercing, haunting eyes. And her social media trail portrays a troubled soul who battled addiction and body image issues.
The 26-year-old California call girl was indicted yesterday for allegedly leaving a Google executive for dead on his yacht after injecting him with a fatal dose of heroin.
Shortly before Thanksgiving last year, police found Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51, dead on his yacht — named “Escape” — in the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor. The yacht’s security cameras show Tichelman injecting Hayes with heroin. He slips into unconsciousness, but she doesn’t call 911. She did, however, collect her belongings — the heroin and needles— casually sidestepping Hayes’s body. “At one point, she steps over the body to finish a glass of wine,” police said, adding that Tichelman did one last thing before fleeing the boat: She closed the blinds, ensuring that no one would see the body from the outside.
“She showed no regard for him,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Tuesday. “She was just trying to cover her tracks.”
Hayes and Tichelman met, according to investigators, through the Web site “Seeking Arrangement,” which promises to help “Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies or Mommas both get what they want, when they want it.”
According to news reports, Hayes worked at Google’s innovation lab, where “moon shot” projects like self-driving cars and Google glass are dreamed up. An obituary written by his family describes Hayes as a beloved husband and father of five who enjoyed spending time with his family and on his boat. On a Web site that has since been taken down, friends and family shared fond memories of him, the Associated Press reported.
Tichelman’s life online tells a different story, not of a loving family but of destruction and an intense self-loathing disguised as bravado with a bustier and sultry makeup (check out her YouTube makeup tutorial at the end of the story).
She appears to have struggled with addiction for years. On her Instagram account, she posted a photo in May, 2013 with the tagline: “My eyes are red red red … combination of the glitter eyeliner and the medical grade I’ve been smokin on.” And in a note titled “heroin” posted on her Facebook page almost exactly a year before the alleged murder she wrote:
this private downward spiral-this suffocating blackhole
makes you feel so warm inside,
yet makes your heart so cold.
each day takes it’s toll,
your thoughts become emotionless,
your soul feels too old.
the demons whispers to me ever so lightly,
he never let’s go of his hold,
taking everything from me,
I’ll end up dying alone.
In another note titled “Thinspiration,” she revealed a struggle with body image and possibly child sex abuse: “I will be thin and pure like a glass cup. Empty. Pure as light. Music. I move my hands over my body – my shoulders, my collarbone, my rib cage, my hip bones like part of an animal skull, my small thighs. In the mirror my face is pale and my eyes look bruised. My hair is pale and thin and the light comes through. I could be a lot younger than twenty four. I could be a child still, untouched.”
In photos posted on her Facebook page in 2012, Tichelman vacillates between skinny and emaciated. In one of them she boasts “size zero … no more size two for me.” She idolized Kate Moss, who also appears several times in her timeline photos. Her Facebook and Instagram photos, a combination of provocative professional model shots and sexy selfies, reveal a scantily clad split personality: a goth in fishnet thigh highs, a pinup girl in panties, heroin chic.
Tichelman doesn’t say much about her family. The notes section of her Facebook page includes a novel-in-progress about a girl named Kat (her middle name is Catherine). It’s not clear whether it’s autobiographical, but the tale tells of an alienated teenager who turns to heroin to escape a broken home where an alcoholic mother entertains “random men.”
According to USA Today, Tichelman’s parents now live in Folsom, Calif., where her father Bart is the chief executive of a tech company, SynapSense Corp. He took the job in November 2012, a year before the alleged murder, after working with Renewvia Energy Corp., a solar power project developer in Atlanta. Tichelman was living in Folsom at the time of her arrest but previously lived in Atlanta, according to her social media accounts.
Two years ago, she posted often about a boyfriend named Dean, who gave her a black and white diamond ‘promise ring’ on June 22, 2012. There are pictures of the them together playing with baby monkeys.
In her last post on Jan. 11, 2013, she counted among her blessings “a great boyfriend, nice house, monkeys, loving family … doesn’t get any better than this I don’t think.”
USA Today identified the boyfriend as Dean Riopelle, 53, who died Sept. 24, 2013, after a heart attack, according to a newspaper obituary. Riopelle owned a nightclub called “Masquerade” and was known as “Monkey Man” because he raised monkeys on his property, according to an Atlanta indie weekly
The details of Tichelman’s tale continue to unravel. Investigators suspect she was involved in an incident in another state similar to Hayes’s alleged murder on the yacht. Santa Cruz police arrested Tichelman on the Fourth of July after an officer posed as a potential client willing to pay $1,000 for her sexual services. She appeared in Santa Cruz Superior Court on Wednesday on eight felony and misdemeanor charges including manslaughter and prostitution. Her arraignment has been postponed until July 16. Assistant District Attorney Rafael Vazquez said the investigation is ongoing and more serious charges may be filed, the AP reported.