Georgia Police Reexamining Death of Boyfriend of Woman Accused in Tech Exec’s Overdose

Police in a town near Atlanta, Georgia, are reviewing the death of the boyfriend of a woman who has been connected with the fatal drug overdose of a tech executive in Santa Cruz, a spokeswoman said today.

Santa Cruz County prosecutors have accused Alix Tichelman, an admitted on-call prostitute, of injecting 51-year-old Forrest Hayes with heroin while his yacht was docked in a harbor in Santa Cruz last Nov. 23.

Hayes, a former executive for Google and Apple, had hired Tichelman, of Folsom, for her services as a prostitute and was one of her more than 200 clients based on her own admission, according to Santa Cruz police.

Surveillance video taken on the boat shows Hayes dropping unconscious to the floor after the heroin is administered. Tichelman then gathered up heroin and needles and quietly left without helping him or calling emergency responders, Santa Cruz police said.

Given the circumstances of Hayes’ death, the Milton Police Department in Georgia are taking another look at the case of Dean Alan Riopelle, who died on Sept. 17 after his girlfriend, Tichelman, called 911 to report he had overdosed on painkillers, police administrative assistant Jeanette Citta said.

Tichelman was never accused of Riopelle’s death but “The case was never closed,” Citta said. “We are reexamining it now.”

Milton police released two police reports mentioning Tichelman, including her arrest last Sept. 6 on suspicion of battery on Riopelle and one about Riopelle’s overdose with audio recordings of Tichelman’s call to a 911 dispatcher as Riopelle lay dying 11 days later.

The report of Tichelman’s arrest by Milton police on Sept. 6 recounted that Tichelman called police to complain about a domestic dispute. When officers arrived, she began to run away and then fell down.

Police wrote that her breath smelled of alcohol and her speech was slurred as she told officers she thought they were her boyfriend. She had blood on her knee, hand and arm that appeared to have come from her fall, officers said.

She told police that her boyfriend, Riopelle, the owner of a nightclub called the Masquerade Bar, had removed her from the club after she dove off the stage a couple of times. She said he drove her to his home and threw her down on the ground multiple times.

Police then questioned Riopelle and an unidentified juvenile. Riopelle, 53, said Tichelman took pills and then drank to excess at the club, at one point exposing her breasts and diving off the stage, and he decided to take her home.

Once the arrived, Tichelman scratched his face, bit his hand and told him she would hit herself in the face and tell police he did it so he would be arrested. Police interviewed the juvenile, who said she heard Tichelman make the threat to hit herself.

Police arrested Tichelman on suspicion of battery-domestic violence and falsely reporting a crime, both misdemeanors.

A spokeswoman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached to say whether charges were filed or if Tichelman was convicted.

Then on Sept. 17, as described in an incident report, Milton police responded to Riopelle’s home on a report of a possible drug overdose and met with Tichelman. She told them Riopelle had been taking Roxycodone, a narcotic pain reliever, with beer all day.

She recalled that she had heard a “crash” after she went to take a shower and found him on the floor unconscious. He had “been on a bender the last few days,” she told officers.

Riopelle was transported while unconscious to a hospital prior to his death. Police reported finding one gram of heroin in his home. No one was charged in the incident.

Tichelman called 911 during Riopelle’s ordeal before police and medical help arrived, according to recordings provided by Milton police.

“I don’t know, I think my boyfriend overdosed or something,” she told the emergency dispatcher. “He won’t respond and he’s just laying, I don’t know.”

Her phone disconnected and the dispatcher called her back. “His eyes are open but he’s not awake,” she told the dispatcher. “He’s breathing on and off.”

When the 911 operator asked why she thought he had overdosed, Tichelman said, “Um, because, I, that’s, that’s, there’s nothing else it could be.”

Tichelman said that the overdose was “definitely accidental” and that she was not sure but thought he was taking “like, um, painkillers. He’s been drinking a lot, too.”

While the operator was telling her how to help assist with reviving Riopelle, Tichelman is heard exclaiming “Dean, why can’t you f—ing wake up?”

Tichelman reported that Riopelle was still breathing and “I don’t think he’s going to die. He scared me.”

Tichelman’s arraignment in Superior Court in Santa Cruz on the manslaughter and other charges is set for July 26.

Jeff Burbank, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!