Hayes (Forrest Hayes Memorial site)
As news came out Wednesday about manslaughter charges against an alleged upscale prostitute accused of injecting heroin into a Google executive from Dearborn and leaving him to die, his former colleagues expressed disbelief.
“It’s very shocking to me because he was a wonderful man,” said Todd Zion, who worked at Google with Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51, of Santa Cruz. “None of us knew what was going on. You usually see a cause of death and there wasn’t one. We knew something wasn’t quite right, but we didn’t know what was going on.”
Hayes was found dead by the captain of Hayes’ 50-foot yacht Escape last November. At the time, a simple obituary described him as a beloved husband and father of five who enjoyed spending time with his family and on his boat.
Hayes worked in the auto industry early in his career, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. Records show he lived in Michigan in the 1980s and 1990s. He was married for 17 years with five children, according to an obituary in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He lived in Santa Cruz for years and worked at technology giants such as Sun Microsystems, Apple and Google, according to his friends and family.
Efforts to reach Hayes’ family in Michigan on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
On Wednesday, Alix Tichelman, 26, of Folsom stood handcuffed and mumbling in red jail scrubs facing manslaughter charges for her role in Hayes’ death, as well as drug and prostitution charges. She is being held on $1.5 million bail.
Surveillance footage from the yacht shows everything, police said, from when she came aboard until after Hayes collapsed. That’s when Tichelman picked up her clothes, the heroin and needles and casually stepped over Hayes as he lay dying. She swallowed the last of a glass of wine, lowered a blind and walked back on the dock to shore, police said.
Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Hayes had hired Tichelman before, and their Nov. 23 encounter “was a mutually consensual encounter including the introduction of the heroin.”
Clark said it appears this might not have been the first time she left someone in trouble without calling 911 or trying to help. Without elaborating, he said his agency is cooperating with police in a different state on a similar case.
“There’s a pattern of behavior here where she doesn’t seek help when someone is in trouble,” he said.
No plea from Tichelman
A memorial blog that was created for Hayes was taken down Tuesday. On the website, friends and co-workers were seemingly unaware of how he died. They fondly described their time together, Christmas parties on his boat, engineering teams at Sun Microsystems, traveling to China for Apple and most recently at Google, where they said he was involved in the Glass eyewear projects.
News vans gathered outside Hayes’ hilltop estate overlooking the glittering Monterey Bay on Wednesday. The five-bedroom home is on the market for $4.2 million. The yacht has been sailed out of the harbor to the Bay Area. Hayes’ widow has not spoken publicly.
Clark said it’s not clear if Hayes was a frequent drug user, and that in the video, it appears he needed Tichelman to help him shoot up. Clark described Tichelman as a high-end prostitute, who lived three hours away and charged $1,000.
Tichelman did not enter a plea and was appointed a public defender, Diana August, who did not immediately return a phone message.
Hayes 'a family man'
Tichelman’s father has ties to the tech industry. Folsom software firm SynapSense announced hiring her father, Bart Tichelman in 2012. Neither the firm nor her father responded to immediate requests for comment.
Police say Tichelman did not call 911 or provide first aid as Hayes suffered medical complications and went unconscious during the overdose.
“I cannot believe based on the man I saw and what I know about drugs in the world, no way I believe this guy did heroin,” Zion said. “I know people can have a secret life. ... He’s a wonderful man. He’s a family man. With the person I knew this doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Assistant District Attorney Rafael Vazquez said authorities are still investigating the case and may file more serious charges.
Associated Press contributed.