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Website defends itself, Georgia case revived after Google exec's death

CrimeProstitutionSun Microsystems Inc.Alix Tichelman
Dating site tied to Google exec and alleged escort accused in his heroin overdose defends itself
Dating site calls overdose death of Google exec 'recreational drug use gone wrong'

A dating website that connected a woman and the Silicon Valley executive she is accused of killing with an overdose of heroin on his yacht said Thursday that there was no indication that she was acting inappropriately or a danger to any other member.

Alix Tichelman, 26, reportedly met 51-year-old Google executive Forrest Hayes through Seeking Arrangement, which connects “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies,” terms used to describe wealthy individuals who lavish gifts on younger companions in exchange for their company and sex, police said.

Police have described her as a high-priced escort who had an "ongoing prostitution relationship" with Hayes, but representatives for the website say Tichelman's profile did not indicate she was using her online account for anything other than the purpose of dating.

"SeekingArrangement.com is a dating website," the company said Thursday in a statement. "Our terms of use are clear: escorts and prostitutes are strictly prohibited. In this case, the suspect’s profile did not indicate that she was using the site inappropriately, or was a danger to any other member.” 

Tichelman faces manslaughter, drug and prostitution charges after Hayes, who had worked for Sun Microsystems and Apple in addition to Google, died in November on his yacht in Santa Cruz.

The dating site's spokeswoman, Angela Bermudo, said the company tries to protect and ensure the safety of its members. A team reportedly reviews all memberships, and has expelled members who are known escorts or prostitutes, she said.

The website also offers background checks for its members, she said.

Still, she said, the facts of the case were unclear.

"What we do know is that these were two adults that were involved in a consensual relationship that was ongoing," Bermudo said. "This appears to be a case of recreational drug use gone wrong."

A camera on the yacht recorded Tichelman injecting heroin into Hayes and then watching his body go limp, Santa Cruz police said.

Instead of calling 911, police allege she packed up her needles and heroin, stepped over the man’s body and gulped down a glass of wine. She left, but then reached back into the cabin to tug down on the blinds, making sure nobody could see inside, detectives said.

The Santa Cruz case has prompted authorities in Georgia to reexamine the case of a man, also in his 50s, who died with heroin and alcohol in his system last year while Tichelman said was taking a shower at his home, Milton police Capt. Shawn McCarty told The Times.

The death was ruled accidental and Tichelman was never charged. But the circumstances, police said, were seen in a new light this week when Tichelman was arrested in Santa Cruz.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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CrimeProstitutionSun Microsystems Inc.Alix Tichelman
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