High-priced prostitute arrested in death of a Google executive

[This post has been updated.]

A 26-year-old Northern California prostitute has been arrested in the mysterious death of a Google executive, according to police.

Forrest Hayes was a 51-year-old married father of five. He loved his family and his boat. He was beloved by his colleagues at Google X, the tech giant’s innovation lab.

But Hayes was apparently living a secret life that no one seemed to have suspected.

Shortly before Thanksgiving last year, police found him on his yacht in the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, dead from a heroin overdose.

On the night of his death, according to police, Hayes had met up with Alix Tichelman, a young call girl he’d met on SeekingArrangement.com, which specializes in setting up wealthy men and women with attractive, willing companions.

Tichleman brought the heroin, injected Hayes with a lethal dose and simply watched as he slipped into unconsciousness and suffered an overdose, according to a Santa Cruz Police Department news release.

Police said that she tried to cover her tracks, taking key evidence with her when she fled the scene, but that surveillance video from the yacht revealed her seemingly deliberate actions.

As Hayes died, Tichelman didn’t call 911. She did, however, collect her belongings — the heroin and needles— while carefully stepping over Hayes’s body. “At one point, she steps over the body to finish a glass of wine,”  police said, adding that Tichleman did one more thing before fleeing the boat: She closed the blinds, ensuring that no one would see the body from the outside.

“She showed no regard for him,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Tuesday. “She was just trying to cover her tracks.”

Months later, investigators were closing in on Tichelman. Fearing that she might leave Santa Cruz, detectives set a trap by posing as a potential client offering more than $1,000 for a sexual encounter.

Tichleman agreed to meet up at an upscale hotel, where she was arrested July 4 on suspicion of second-degree murder, destruction of evidence and transporting and providing narcotics. She is also being investigated in a similar death in another state, police said.

A spokesman for Google declined to comment on Hayes and the pending case.

Todd Zion, who worked with Hayes at Google, on Wednesday called him a “wonderful man” and manager.

Hayes had arrived at Google only recently after spending several years at Apple, and news of his unexplained death came as a shock.

“I was devastated in the sense that I was really looking forward to working for him,” Zion told The Post on Wednesday. “He was my boss for only about two months, but I had heard nothing about him that suggested that he did drugs.”

Writing on a memorial page, which has now been deleted, a former colleague from Apple remembered Hayes as a family man and an asset: “Forrest played a significant role and contributed tremendously at Apple but nothing was more important to Forrest than his family. He talked about them all the time as they were truly his priority.”

Tichelman is expected to be arraigned in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on Wednesday, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Update: July 16, 2014 – Santa Cruz police released a statement correcting the suspects name. It is Alix Tichelman not Alix Tichleman. This post has been changed to reflect that correction.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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