It took months for detectives to link an escort to a Google exec’s death on his yacht in Santa Cruz because the ship’s captain lied to police about the existence of surveillance video on board, police said.
Last week, Santa Cruz police arrested 26-year-old Alix Tichelman on suspicion of giving Forrest Hayes, 51, a fatal dose of heroin and deliberately avoiding to help him in November 2013. Hayes' body was found aboard his 50-foot yacht the next morning by the ship’s captain.
The delay between the discovery of the body and Tichelman's arrest, in part, was because the captain didn’t reveal everything he knew to detectives, said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.
The captain, who was not identified, catered to the rich and powerful, a client base that puts a high price on discretion, authorities said. So when the captain found Hayes' body and called police, he told detectives the ship's security camera wasn’t working.
When detectives learned the camera was fully operational and had stored video from that November night on a cloud server, they got a court order for the footage in early January. What they saw led to Tichelman's arrest.
Police say Tichelman injected herself with heroin and then administered a dose to Hayes, who subsequently slipped into unconsciousness and collapsed. As he lay there dying, police say, Tichelman cleaned up the scene and picked up her needles, drugs, fixed up the bed and stepped over Hayes’ body to finish a glass of wine.
Police allege she tried to wipe her prints off the glass and closed the yacht blinds so no one could see inside.
“She's cold. Ice cold,” Clark said.
It took months for police to identify Tichelman, a suspected escort. Once they did, they posed as a potential client willing to pay $1,000 for her company. She was taken into custody at a tony Santa Cruz resort last week.
She's also being investigated in a heroin overdose death in Georgia.
Tichelman was charged this week with manslaughter, several drug-related felonies and misdemeanors for alleged prostitution and destroying evidence related to Hayes' death.
The ship's captain, meanwhile, will be a witness in the case, police said.
Tichelman is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
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