A Santa Cruz man who was found dead on his yacht from a heroin overdose allegedly injected by a high-priced escort was a Silicon Valley tech executive with a wife, five children and a reputation as a dedicated family man.
Through messages posted on a memorial website that was taken down Wednesday morning, a profile of Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51, emerges of the onetime Google and Apple engineer as a problem-solving father who loved cars and his boat and frequently yearned to spend more time with his family.
On Friday, police arrested 26-year-old Alix Tichelman in connection with Hayes’ death. Police said she had an ongoing relationship with Hayes via the website Seekingarrangments.com, a website dedicated to connecting wealthy individuals who lavish gifts and money on young, attractive suitors in exchange for their company and sex.
Tichelman is accused of giving Hayes an overdose of heroin Nov. 23 and then coldly gathering up the drugs, finishing off a glass of wine and stepping over his body to leave as he lay dying -- a scene police say was captured by security cameras on the boat.
Police posed as a potential client offering her $1,000 and lured her to a Santa Cruz resort, where she was taken into custody Friday.
The circumstances surrounding Hayes' death, however, stand in stark contrast to the man his co-workers admired and came to rely on for advice. In addition to Google, he worked at Sun Microsystems and Apple.
Hayes was confident in his opinions and evenhanded in his leadership, co-workers said.
“I believe you learn a great deal about a person when times are tough,” wrote former Apple co-worker Mark Turnlund on the blog dedicated to Hayes' memory. “At times like these Forrest was at his best. He was a true leader, calmly addressing the situation, no matter how difficult. He always maintained a sense of humor, a sense of perspective.”
Another colleague, identified only as “Obi” on the site, said Hayes made a big impression in the short time they worked together.
“We talked about our families and what our kids were doing, how you were spending less time on a plane these days, you told me to get more help when things were stressful after my second child was born,” Obi wrote. “Small things, but real life. You cared so much about your family and those around you.”
Hayes loved driving his modified Porsche on Bay Area highways, but also owned a Chevy Volt -- a compromise to horsepower for the sake of driving in the carpool lane and shortening his commute to be with his family, another colleague said.
On Wednesday, Santa Cruz County prosecutors charged Tichelman with manslaughter, multiple drug-related felonies, and three misdemeanors of prostitution and destroying evidence.
She appeared in court wearing a red jail jumpsuit and mostly kept her eyes focused forward or on the ground. Several tattoos were visible on her forearms, along with dark fingernail polish on her hands.
Two women who answered the phones at numbers connected to Tichelman's family said they had no comment.
Tichelman’s arraignment was continued until July 16.
Assistant Dist. Atty. Rafael Vazquez said after the court appearance Wednesday that though Tichelman was charged with manslaughter -- which can bring up to 11 years in prison -- things could change over the course of the investigation. Police had originally booked Tichelman on suspicion of murder.
“If they have evidence that demonstrate to us without a reasonable doubt that murder can be proven, then we’ll certainly evaluate that when that’s presented,” Vazquez said.