SANTA CRUZ -- It was a camera-caught crime of callousness -- an unconscious Silicon Valley tech executive left to die on his luxury yacht with a fatal fix of heroin coursing through his veins. Police said the prostitute who injected the drug cleared out evidence, stepped over his body and finished a glass of wine before fleeing.
The victim: Forrest Timothy Hayes, a 51-year-old who was on the Google team involved with the high-profile rollout and production of its cutting-edge Glass eyewear. A well-regarded family man with a wife of 17 years, five kids and a palatial estate near the UC Santa Cruz campus, who had what friends called an impulsive streak to snap up objects of desire.
The suspect: Alix Catherine Tichelman, a 26-year-old daughter of a Sacramento-area tech CEO with a penchant for provocative poses, heavy metal music and illegal intoxicants. Police said she was also a Web-based prostitute who boasted she had more than 200 clients and was lured to her arrest with the promise of a $1,000 payoff.
In a seamy twist to what was originally dubbed a "suspicious death," Tichelman faces manslaughter and drug and prostitution charges, as well as evidence tampering following her July 4 arrest after a seven-month investigation. Santa Cruz police said a video recorded the weekend before Thanksgiving aboard Hayes' 50-foot yacht "Escape," moored in a slip in the Santa Cruz Harbor, showed Tichelman shooting Hayes up with what turned out to be a lethal dose of heroin. They said she made no effort to help or summon aid when he began "suffering medical complications and going unconscious."
Instead, she started collecting her belongings, including the heroin and hypodermic needles, and knocked back the wine. After disembarking the "Escape," she "reaches back in to lower a blind and conceal the victim's body from outside view," police said.
"She showed no regard for him," said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark. "She was just trying to cover her tracks."
Hayes was found dead the next morning by the ship's captain. Without elaborating, police said it may not be the first such crime committed by Tichelman, and they are looking into a similar incident in another state.
In Facebook posts and pictures on a page that disappeared around noon Wednesday, Tichelman expressed a fondness for the macabre and things considerably darker than what's imagined in the realm of tech executives. She states she won't date anyone without tattoos, or who has "a general distaste for metal."
"It's really nice to talk with someone about killing sprees and murdering people in cold blood ... and they love it too," she wrote. "No judgement(sic). Yay!"
The website contained numerous photos of a scantily clad Tichelman. She was also on "SeekingArrangement.com," which is where police say she met Hayes. The website touts itself as a place "where beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships," and where "sugar daddies" can meet "sugar babies."
Appearing in court wearing handcuffs, a red jumpsuit, red lipstick, and black eyeliner on Wednesday, Tichelman alternated between looking out at the audience and hanging her head. She was given a public defender but did not enter a plea, with the arraignment continued to July 16. She remains jailed in lieu of $1.5 million bail.
Meanwhile, Hayes' family was in seclusion at their hilltop home, where a woman shooed reporters and accused them of making the family revisit a painful experience.
Hayes is a native of Dearborn, Mich., who started his career in the automotive industry before moving to Santa Cruz and working for tech giants including Sun Microsystems, Apple and Google.
A January obituary the family wrote for the Santa Cruz Sentinel gave no hint of the double life he led.
"Forrest will be remembered above all as a loving husband and father," the obituary read. "More than anything else he enjoyed spending time with his family at home and on his boat. His brilliant mind, contagious smile and warm embrace will be missed and cherished."
Hayes joined Apple in 2005 and worked there for several years, according to a brief profile on LinkedIn, but he moved to Google about a year ago and joined its secretive "X" division, which is responsible for what the company likes to call "moon shot" projects including self-driving cars and the computer headset known as Glass.
Google and Apple representatives declined to discuss Hayes' tenure or responsibilities at those companies. But postings on a memorial website indicate that he helped oversee hardware manufacturing at Apple and worked with suppliers and contractors involved in the Glass project at Google. Friends created the site last fall and it was taken down this week, after police announced Tichelman's arrest.
Colleagues at Google described Hayes as a thoughtful and generous manager, but also said he was decisive and known for his "ability to get stuff done," in the words of one colleague, who added in a memorial posting: " ... the very fact that the Glass manufacturing line is now humming along is testament to that."
One of the posts on the memorial site was signed "Astro" and appears to have been written by Astro Teller, the scientist and entrepreneur who serves as director of operations at Google X, reporting to company co-founder Sergey Brin.
"The first time I met you I felt that you had a particularly bright light inside you," the post said. "You had the perfect mixture of serious and happy and I hope that over time, I can become even just a tiny bit more like you in that way."
The posting added: "You were only at X for a short while but you made a huge difference to us there. You set a new standard for effectiveness and professionalism ... I miss you painfully and I will fondly remember you always. With love, Astro."
Friends called him practical yet impatient -- a streak that resulted in impulse buys like an electric car so he could use carpool lanes after a frustrating 40-minute commute to Google; and the yacht days after a friend tantalized him by sending him a photo.
Tichelman's Facebook page said she graduated high school in Atlanta and studied journalism at Georgia State University. She described herself as an aspiring model, makeup artist, writer, exotic dancer and "hustler." Her father, Bart Tichelman, is the CEO of Folsom software firm SynapSense, and could not be reached for comment.
Police would not divulge when the two connected through the website, but said they had an "ongoing prostitution relationship." Police lured her back to Santa Cruz last week under the guise of a wealthy john seeking a tryst, and arrested her when she showed up at an undisclosed luxury hotel. Officers were spurred to act by a June 30 Facebook post suggesting she was planning to leave the state.
"I AM COMING HOME TO THE FILTHY, NASTY, DIRTY SOUTH!" Tichelman wrote four days before her arrest. "hoping to start the drive back to Atlanta at the beginning of next week. Can't wait to see everyone. Its celebration time y all!"
Staff writers Robert Salonga, Mark Gomez, Stephen Baxter and Jessica A. York contributed to this report. Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.