She was ambitious. A model, makeup artist, writer and exotic dancer who posted her work on Facebook and Twitter pages.
Now, she’s accused of killing a California man and could be linked to the death of a second man in north Fulton County, according to police in both states. Alix Catherine Tichelman was there as the two men, 2,500 miles apart, overdosed on heroin and died during a two-month period in the fall.
Tichelman, 26, was arrested in California, accused of delivering the lethal injection of heroin that killed Google executive Forrest Hayes aboard his yacht in November. On Thursday, Milton police confirmed that detectives will review the September overdose death of Tichelman’s boyfriend, Dean Riopelle, after Tichelman gave California police conflicting information. Tichelman was not charged in connection with Riopelle’s death, which was ruled accidental.
But while being interviewed by Santa Cruz police, Tichelman said she provided Riopelle with heroin — something she never told Milton police, Capt. Shawn McCarty told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We’re just making sure we didn’t miss anything,” McCarty said. “There’s a possibility that nothing in our case changes. But we would be remiss if we didn’t go back and look at it.”
Riopelle, 53, was a divorced father of two, the owner of the Masquerade music club in Atlanta, and was known to some in the Milton area for his love of monkeys when he died Sept. 24. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday that Riopelle’s death was the result of “heroin, Oxycodone and ethanol toxicity.”
Tichelman, who was dating the divorced Riopelle, was inside his Milton home and found him unresponsive Sept. 17, she told police, according to reports and 911 recordings obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I think my boyfriend overdosed or something, like he won’t respond,” Tichelman told the 911 operator. “His eyes are open, but no, he’s not awake.”
Tichelman told the operator Riopelle had been drinking and taking painkillers, but said she didn’t know what type or if the pills had been prescribed.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Tichelman said. “You’re asking the wrong person.”
Riopelle was transported to the hospital, but days later was taken off life support and died.
Riopelle’s overdose, described by Tichelman as accidental, came 11 days after a physical dispute between the two at the Hopewell Road home, according to a Milton police report. Around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 6, Tichelman claimed Riopelle threw her to the ground after the two returned home from the Masquerade. Riopelle, however, told police Tichelman had taken pills, consumed several alcoholic drinks and was behaving inappropriately.
“Mr. Riopelle stated that Ms. Tichelman was showing her breasts and was stage diving while they were there,” the report states.
When the two returned home, Tichelman and Riopelle argued and Tichelman bit him on the hand, breaking the skin, according to police. Tichelman was arrested and charged with battery and false report of a crime and was booked into the Fulton County jail, where she was released the following day after posting $5,000 bond, booking records showed.
Although Tichelman previously had no criminal charges for drugs, they were a frequent topic on her social media sites. In November 2012, she posted several lines of poetry about the drug heroin on a Facebook page.
“this private downward spiral-this suffocating blackhole makes you feel so warm inside, yet makes your heart so cold,” Tichelman wrote.
The numerous online photographs show a lingerie-clad, tattooed young woman posing provocatively. But her Facebook and Twitter profiles offer little insight into her earlier life.
Tichelman attended Northview High School for about two months in 2004 before switching to an unknown private school, a spokeswoman for Fulton County schools said Thursday. In 2008, Tichelman attended Georgia State University for two semesters, the university confirmed.
According to address records, Tichelman and her younger sister, Monica, lived for several years in north Fulton County with their parents, Bart and Leslieann, who are originally from British Columbia. Bart Tichelman, 58, held leadership positions for both Cott Corporation and Paradigm Consulting in Atlanta before moving with his wife in November 2012 to Folsom, Calif., where he serves as president and CEO for a company called SynapSense. The California phone number for the Tichelmans had been disconnected Thursday afternoon.
While in Atlanta, the Tichelmans were avid golfers, and in March 2012, Leslieann participated in a fashion show benefiting the American Cancer Society Auxiliary, accessatlanta.com previously reported.
In the weeks after Riopelle’s death, Tichelman moved temporarily to California, where she used a dating website called SeekingArrangement.com to meet hundreds of clients, she told police. She said the website is how she met Hayes, a 51-year-old married father of five.
On Nov. 23, Tichelman allegedly injected Hayes with heroin on his 50-foot yacht in the Santa Cruz harbor, watched him fall unconscious, took a sip of wine and left without calling for help, police in California have said.
Tichelman was arrested Friday after police identified her as a suspect from surveillance footage and then lured her to the Santa Cruz area by posing as a customer and offering her $1,000 for sex, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Police believe Tichelman was planning to move back to the Atlanta area, where her sister still lives. Monica Tichelman declined to comment when contacted by Channel 2 Action News.
Tichelman’s family has declined to comment about her arrest. But dozens of people have posted comments on her Facebook and Twitter pages, expressing anger at Tichelman for her alleged roles in the deaths.
Santa Cruz and Milton detectives plan to meet in person to discuss specifics in the two cases, McCarty said.
— Staff writer Mike Morris and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.