A high-priced prostitute panicked on the phone with a police dispatcher as her boyfriend lay on the floor of their home in the throes of a fatal overdose. Two months later, the woman calmly left a Google executive dying from a heroin overdose on his yacht, authorities say.
Police said yesterday they are re-examining the death of Dean Riopelle, 53, the owner of a popular Atlanta music venue.
Riopelle had been dating Alix Tichelman, 26, who is now charged with manslaughter in the November death in California of Google executive Forrest Hayes. She was never charged in Riopelle’s death.
“Both subjects in these cases died of heroin overdoses, so there’s just several factors we want to look at to make sure that we didn’t miss anything,” Milton police Captain Shawn McCarty said.
It is not clear how long Tichelman may have been involved in prostitution, though police in California say she had many clients in wealthy Silicon Valley. Police there also said that, after Hayes’ death, she had done online searches for how to defend herself legally after administering a lethal dose of heroin.
Numerous social media postings, photos and other articles online suggest she was pursuing a career as a fetish model and a life with Riopelle – one photo posted on her Facebook page shows her displaying a diamond “promise ring” given to her by Riopelle.
The couple had been dating for about two and a half years and lived together, said Riopelle’s sister, Dee Riopelle.
In a 2012 interview with a fetish magazine, fIXE, under the pseudonym AK Kennedy, Tichelman describes herself as a model, writer and make-up artist.
One post on her Facebook page, titled simply heroin, is a poem that opens with the line: “this private downward spiral-this suffocating blackhole.”
She also said she was interested in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM. She said she and Riopelle would go to clubs, with her wearing a collar and leash.
Riopelle was known for owning the Masquerade, a popular Atlanta music venue.
“He was very, very wise when it came to business sense,” Dee Riopelle said. “Everything Dean touched turned to gold.”
On September 6, a drunk Tichelman called police, saying Riopelle threw her to the ground, according to a police report.
Riopelle told officers that she had taken pills and drank alcohol, and had been stage diving and exposing her breasts that night at the Masquerade. He said he took her home because he did not approve.
Riopelle also told officers that she bit him on the finger and threatened to hit herself and tell police Riopelle had beaten her. A neighbour confirmed hearing Tichelman say that. She was charged with battery and arrested; Riopelle was not.
Less than two weeks later, a panicked Tichelman called police, saying her boyfriend had overdosed on something and would not respond.
Tichelman tried for five minutes to revive him before calling, according to a police report. She said she had been in the shower when she heard a crash and came out to find Riopelle unconscious.
Riopelle died at a hospital a week later. An autopsy report listed his death as an accidental overdose of heroin, oxycodone and alcohol. Tichelman had told the dispatcher that he had been taking painkillers and drinking.
Police say surveillance video from the Google executive’s yacht shows Tichelman’s next deadly encounter with heroin in California, on November 23.
Santa Cruz deputy police chief Steve Clark gives the following account from the video:
Tichelman prepares the heroin to a liquid and injects it into Hayes’ arm. Shortly after, Hayes clutches his chest, near his heart. Tichelman tries to prop him up, but he then loses consciousness.
Tichelman then starts picking up her belongings, including the needle, and cleans up a counter while stepping over Hayes several times. During that time, Tichelman calmly drinks a glass of wine and surveys the scene.
Tichelman then goes outside the cabin of the boat on the dock, looks back inside, then pulls down a window blind, closes a door and leaves.
“Never does she call 911 or call out to others in nearby boats for help. She never tries to administer any aid to him,” Clark said. “She is more concerned about getting herself out and concealing evidence than helping Mr Hayes.”
Clark said that investigators learned that Tichelman later did online searches “on how to defend herself after giving a lethal dose of heroin”.
Investigators also learned that Tichelman planned to leave California late last month, and maybe even the country, Clark said.