Prosecutors have charged a 26-year-old woman with felony manslaughter in connection with the fatal overdose of a Santa Cruz tech executive last fall.
Alix Tichelman, 26, appeared in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Wednesday morning wearing a red jail jumpsuit, her reddish-brown hair loose around her face. She was appointed an attorney from the public defender's office, who asked to postpone arraignment until next week.
Tichelman was arrested on July 4 in connection with an ongoing investigation into the death of 51-year-old Forrest Hayes in November. Hayes was found dead on his yacht, Escape, at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor from a fatal dose of heroin.
Santa Cruz police say Tichelman and Hayes had an ongoing prostitution relationship, having connected through a website called Seeking Arrangement. They say surveillance footage shows Tichelman injecting Hayes with heroin, and then shows him suffering medical complications and going unconscious, Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said.
Rather than providing first aid or calling 911, Tichelman gathered her belongings, including the heroin, Clark told NewsChannel5.
"It showed our suspect, it showed our victim, it showed her injecting him with heroin, showed her absolute callousness, after the fact, as he starts to have medical complications. There was no effort to call 911," Clark said.
According to Clark, the video also shows Tichelman stepping over the victim’s body several times as she is gathering her belongings. Eventually she is shown leaving the boat, stopping to lower a blind to conceal the body from outside view, he said.
Police detectives posed as a client to set up a meeting with Tichelman in Santa Cruz Friday and she was arrested when she showed up.
Initially, police booked her on suspicion of second-degree murder but in court Wednesday, prosecutor Rafael Vazquez said the evidence fits a charge of felony manslaughter.
Under California state law, felony manslaughter is defined as "the unlawful killing of a human being without malice," be it voluntary or involuntary.
To view the criminal complaint, click here.
Tichelman also faces charges of prostitution and drug possession. She will be arraigned on the charges on July 16. Her bail is currently set at $1.5 million.
Outside court, Vazquez told reporters he couldn't give more details about the case at this point because the investigation is still continuing.
Tichelman is a native of Georgia and had been living in the Sacramento-area. On her Facebook page, she describes herself as a model and makeup artist who'd previously attended Georgia State University.
Hayes, a Michigan native, was a married father of five who lived in Santa Cruz, according to his obituary. He was an executive at Google who'd previously worked for Apple, among other tech companies.