As of Thursday, July 10, 2014
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — As a Google executive lay dying on his yacht, an upscale prostitute casually walks over him, picks up her clothes and heroin and swallows the last of a glass of wine before lowering the boat's blinds and walking back on the dock to shore, police say surveillance footage shows.
Authorities charged Alix Tichelman, 26, 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 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.
"There's a pattern of behavior here where she doesn't seek help when someone is in trouble," he said.
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.
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. August did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Assistant District Attorney Rafael Vazquez said authorities are still investigating and may file more serious charges.
Santa Clara University Finance professor Robert Hendershott said financial windfalls like those seen in the Silicon Valley often bring problems as people have trouble managing their newfound wealth. But he said there's no obvious hedonistic culture in the Silicon Valley.
"There's no Great Gatsby type of parties famous in the Silicon Valley," he said.
Associated Press reporters Michael Liedtke and Terry Collins in San Francisco and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this story.
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