Alix Tichelman: A Hooker, Heroin, and a Dead Millionaire on a Yacht

     Alix Catherine Tichelman described herself on her Facebook page as a fetish (“bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism”) model with more than 200 “client relationships.” In plain words, the 26-year-old worked as a Silicon Valley pro…

     Alix Catherine Tichelman described herself on her Facebook page as a fetish ("bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism") model with more than 200 "client relationships." In plain words, the 26-year-old worked as a Silicon Valley prostitute. Her "clients" were wealthy Johns willing to shell out big fees for the rope, the whip, and who knows what else.

     If one believed Tichelman's Facebook entries, the self-described high-end hooker graduated from high school in Deluth, Georgia before studying journalism at Georgia State University in Atlanta. (Maybe in college she heard that journalists were whores and decided to make real money in that profession.) Tichelman started her sex worker career at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club.

     In early 2012, Tichelman began dating Dean Riopelle, the lead singer of a rock-and-roll band called "Impotent Sea Snakes." (Catchy.) Riopelle also owned the Masquerade Night Club in Atlanta, a popular music venue. Interestingly enough, Riopelle had earned a degree in construction engineering from the University of Florida. Eventually Tichelman moved into Riopell's luxury home in Milton, Georgia.

     On September 6, 2013, officers with the Milton Police Department responded to a domestic call that originated from the Riopelle house. Tichelman, the caller, accused her boyfriend of physical abuse. He returned the favor with assault accusations of his own. The officers departed without taking anyone into custody.

     On September 19, 2013, Tichelman dialed 911 and to the dispatcher said, "I think my boyfriend overdosed on something. He, like, won't respond." Tichelman, in response to the emergency dispatcher's questions, said Riopelle's eyes were open but he was unconscious. She described his breathing as "on and off." The dispatcher overheard the caller say, "Hello Dean, are you awake?"

     When the 911 dispatcher asked Tichelman how she knew her boyfriend had overdosed on something, she said, "Because there's nothing else it could be." The dispatcher inquired if the overdose was intentional or accidental. "He was taking painkillers and drinking a lot," came the reply.

     Dean Riopelle died a week later at a local hospital. The medical examiner's office, following the autopsy, identified the cause of death as excessive heroin and alcohol consumption. The medical examiner ruled the death an accident.

     On November 23, 2013, about a month after Dean Riopelle's overdose fatality, a 51-year-old Google executive from Silicon Valley named Forrest Timothy Hayes enjoyed Tichelman's purchased company on his 50-foot yacht. (The vessel has also been described as a powerboat.) Later that day, the authorities discovered Hayes dead in one of the boat's bedrooms. (The yacht was not at sea.)

     In the course of the investigation into this sudden death, detectives with the Santa Cruz Police Department viewed the yacht's videotape footage that revealed just how the executive had died. Tichelman was seen injecting Hayes with what investigators presumed to be a shot of heroin. Immediately after the needle went in, he clutched his chest and collapsed. Tichelman responded to the obvious emergency by finishing her glass of wine then gathering up her belongings. As she casually strolled out of the bedroom, she stepped over Hayes' body. She did not call 911.

     Santa Cruz detectives, on July 3, 2014, executed a search warrant at Tichelman's parents' home in Folsom, a upscale Silicon Valley community. Her father, Bart, was CEO of a tech firm that offered "energy efficient infrastructure" for data centers. At the Tichelman house, detectives carried away the suspect's laptop. On the computer, investigators found that Tichelman, just before Hayes' death, had made online inquires regarding how to defend oneself if accused of homicide in a drug overdose case.

     On July 4, 2014, an undercover Santa Cruz officer, through the website SeekingArrangement.com, lured Alix Tichelman to a fancy hotel on the pretext of being a John willing to pay $1,000 for a session featuring fetish sex. The officer took the hooker into custody on suspicion of criminal homicide in the yacht owner's death.

     At her arraignment on July 10, 2014, the judge informed the suspect she faced a charge of manslaughter along with several drug related crimes. She pleaded not guilty to these offenses. The judge set her bail at $1.5 million.

     Homicide detectives, in the wake of Forrest Hayes' suspicious death, were looking into the Dean Riopelle overdose case. As a result of the Hayes case, SeekingArrangement.com was shut down. This upset Silicon Valley prostitutes who said they used the site to screen Johns with histories of violence. Affluent sex worker clients in the valley also used the site to arrange hooker dates. (I guess if you're a whore, doing business in an area populated by a lot of rich nerds is a good thing.)

   On May 18, 2015, Alix Tichelman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and numerous drug offenses in connection with Forrest Hayes' fatal overdose. Larry Biggam, the lawyer who negotiated the plea bargain on Tichelman's behalf, told reporters that although his client had been sentenced to six years in prison, she will only spend three years behind bars.

     The Tichelman case illustrates the difference between immoral and illegal behavior. While not raising a hand to save a dying man is a highly immoral act, in law it is merely a minor form of criminal homicide.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Vigilante Judges

At times, judges abandon their neutrality and step into the adversarial void, acting like prosecutors, forcing defendants either to take a deal or wait in jail for a trial date. That, or they deny a defendant his rights altogether….Many defendants plead guilty without a lawyer present. In some cases, they had been in jail for months without counsel. In others, they had no idea what they were pleading guilty to or they accepted sentences higher than the legal maximum.

Amy Bach, Ordinary Justice, 2009 

At times, judges abandon their neutrality and step into the adversarial void, acting like prosecutors, forcing defendants either to take a deal or wait in jail for a trial date. That, or they deny a defendant his rights altogether….Many defendants plead guilty without a lawyer present. In some cases, they had been in jail for months without counsel. In others, they had no idea what they were pleading guilty to or they accepted sentences higher than the legal maximum.

Amy Bach, Ordinary Justice, 2009 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Law

Thornton P. Knowles On The Golden Age of Talk

We are a nation of talkers. Everyone is talking–nonstop. We talk about everything, and about nothing, and we don’t listen because we’re too busy talking. Often the talking turns into shouting. Turn on your television and what do you get, talking heads…

We are a nation of talkers. Everyone is talking--nonstop. We talk about everything, and about nothing, and we don't listen because we're too busy talking. Often the talking turns into shouting. Turn on your television and what do you get, talking heads. They talk about sports, politics, the weather, entertainment celebrities, and themselves. We now have what they call "talk radio." We're in the "Golden Age of Talk." There's nowhere to go to get away from it. Some day scientists my find that all of this talking caused climate change. I wish everybody, for the sake of the planet, would just shut up and find something to do rather than to say. What ever happened to the old adage: "Silence is Golden?"

Thornton P. Knowles

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Uncategorized

A Look Back at the Notorious McMartian Preschool Case

…..Starting in 1983, with accusations from a mother whose mental instability later became an issue in the case, the operators of the McMartin Preschool Day Care Center near Los Angeles were charged with raping and sodomizing dozens of small children. The trial dragged on for years, one of the longest and costliest in American history. In the end…no one was ever convicted of a single act of wrongdoing. Indeed, some of the early allegations were so fantastic as to make many people wonder later how anyone could have believed them in the first place. Really now, teachers chopped up animals, clubbed a horse to death with a baseball bat, sacrificed a baby in a church and made children drink the blood, dressed up as witches and flew in the air–and all this had been going on unnoticed for a good long while until a disturbed mother spoke up?

     Still, the McMartin case unleashed a nationwide hysteria about child abuse and Satanism in schools. One report after another told of horrific practices, with the Devil often literally in the details….

     Often enough in these cases, news organizations share blame. In the McMartin case, they were far from innocent observers. A pack mentality set in after a local television journalist first reported the allegations. Across California and beyond, normal standards of fairness and reasoned skepticism were routinely thrown to the wind, with news gatherers scrambling to outdo one another in finding purposed examples of monstrous behavior by the principal defendants: Peggy McMartin Buckey and her son Raymond Buckey. (Mrs. Buckey, daughter of the school’s founder, died at 74 in 2000. Raymond Buckey, now in his mid-50s, said years ago that he wanted simply to be left alone….) It would be comforting to believe that mindlessly frenetic news coverage is a relic of the past. But who could make that claim with a straight face?

     Did the McMartin case have any lasting effect? In some respects, yes. Teachers across America grew afraid to hug or touch their students, out of fear of being misunderstood and possibly being brought up on charges. A widely held notion that young children do not lie about such matters took a huge hit. Some are vulnerable to implanted memories. In the McMartin case, many jurors found that leading questions from therapists steered impressionable children toward some of the most macabre tales….

Clyde Haberman, “The Trial That Unleashed Hysteria Over Child Abuse,” The New York Times, March 9, 2014 

…..Starting in 1983, with accusations from a mother whose mental instability later became an issue in the case, the operators of the McMartin Preschool Day Care Center near Los Angeles were charged with raping and sodomizing dozens of small children. The trial dragged on for years, one of the longest and costliest in American history. In the end…no one was ever convicted of a single act of wrongdoing. Indeed, some of the early allegations were so fantastic as to make many people wonder later how anyone could have believed them in the first place. Really now, teachers chopped up animals, clubbed a horse to death with a baseball bat, sacrificed a baby in a church and made children drink the blood, dressed up as witches and flew in the air--and all this had been going on unnoticed for a good long while until a disturbed mother spoke up?

     Still, the McMartin case unleashed a nationwide hysteria about child abuse and Satanism in schools. One report after another told of horrific practices, with the Devil often literally in the details….

     Often enough in these cases, news organizations share blame. In the McMartin case, they were far from innocent observers. A pack mentality set in after a local television journalist first reported the allegations. Across California and beyond, normal standards of fairness and reasoned skepticism were routinely thrown to the wind, with news gatherers scrambling to outdo one another in finding purposed examples of monstrous behavior by the principal defendants: Peggy McMartin Buckey and her son Raymond Buckey. (Mrs. Buckey, daughter of the school's founder, died at 74 in 2000. Raymond Buckey, now in his mid-50s, said years ago that he wanted simply to be left alone….) It would be comforting to believe that mindlessly frenetic news coverage is a relic of the past. But who could make that claim with a straight face?

     Did the McMartin case have any lasting effect? In some respects, yes. Teachers across America grew afraid to hug or touch their students, out of fear of being misunderstood and possibly being brought up on charges. A widely held notion that young children do not lie about such matters took a huge hit. Some are vulnerable to implanted memories. In the McMartin case, many jurors found that leading questions from therapists steered impressionable children toward some of the most macabre tales….

Clyde Haberman, "The Trial That Unleashed Hysteria Over Child Abuse," The New York Times, March 9, 2014 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Thornton P. Knowles On His Grandfather’s Last Words

My grandfather was the dirtiest of dirty old men. I’m not kidding. When he lay dying surrounded by nurses, his last words were: “Show me your knockers.” He died in a Catholic hospital where all the nurses were nuns. A West Virginia coal miner, black lu…

My grandfather was the dirtiest of dirty old men. I'm not kidding. When he lay dying surrounded by nurses, his last words were: "Show me your knockers." He died in a Catholic hospital where all the nurses were nuns. A West Virginia coal miner, black lung disease brought him down. He once told me that he didn't fear death because Hell couldn't be any worse than life.  As per his wishes, his corpse was consumed by flame, he didn't have a funeral service, and he wasn't laid to rest in a cemetery. When asked about his ashes, he laughed and said, "Dump them into a pot hole." Grandpa was my favorite relative.

Thornton P. Knowles

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Uncategorized

Thornton P. Knowles On Why a Pedophile Would Become a Priest

A difficult but fair question: Why would a pedophile, a man who craves sex with boys, go into the priesthood? Perhaps such a person truly believes that such behavior is not sinful, or maybe there is hope that once he becomes a priest he will be able to…

A difficult but fair question: Why would a pedophile, a man who craves sex with boys, go into the priesthood? Perhaps such a person truly believes that such behavior is not sinful, or maybe there is hope that once he becomes a priest he will be able to control his perverted sexual urges. The pedophile might become a priest simply because it gives him access to easy prey. While cynical and hard to accept, I think this explains it best. How did this all get started, and where will it all end? When will the Catholic Church stop being such a friendly place for sexual abusers?

Thornton P. Knowles

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Uncategorized

Dr. William Maples on Forensic Anthropology

     A forensic anthropologist is not a medical doctor, though he has a Ph.D. and has studied anthropology in college. We specialize in the human skeletal system, its changes through life, its changes across many lifetimes, and its varia…

     A forensic anthropologist is not a medical doctor, though he has a Ph.D. and has studied anthropology in college. We specialize in the human skeletal system, its changes through life, its changes across many lifetimes, and its variations around the world. We are part of the larger field of physical anthropology, or biological anthropology as it is known today, which is concerned overall with the human body and all its variations. My specialty, physical anthropology, is distinct from other fields such as cultural anthropology and archaeology....

     My field of expertise is the human skeleton. Though some pathologists insist on doing their own skeletal examinations along with autopsies, I can confidently say that there are very few cases in which a forensic anthropologist--someone like me--could not add a great deal of useful information to what a pathologist can discover. I have had pathologists exclaim frankly in my hearing, when confronted with a skeleton: "Gee, I'm not used to looking at these without the meat on them!"

Dr. William R. Maples, Dead Men Do Tell Tales, 1994

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Dr. William Maples on Forensic Anthropology

     A forensic anthropologist is not a medical doctor, though he has a Ph.D. and has studied anthropology in college. We specialize in the human skeletal system, its changes through life, its changes across many lifetimes, and its varia…

     A forensic anthropologist is not a medical doctor, though he has a Ph.D. and has studied anthropology in college. We specialize in the human skeletal system, its changes through life, its changes across many lifetimes, and its variations around the world. We are part of the larger field of physical anthropology, or biological anthropology as it is known today, which is concerned overall with the human body and all its variations. My specialty, physical anthropology, is distinct from other fields such as cultural anthropology and archaeology....

     My field of expertise is the human skeleton. Though some pathologists insist on doing their own skeletal examinations along with autopsies, I can confidently say that there are very few cases in which a forensic anthropologist--someone like me--could not add a great deal of useful information to what a pathologist can discover. I have had pathologists exclaim frankly in my hearing, when confronted with a skeleton: "Gee, I'm not used to looking at these without the meat on them!"

Dr. William R. Maples, Dead Men Do Tell Tales, 1994

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Thornton P. Knowles On “Literary” Novels Without Plots

To make up an original story and tell it well requires narrative skill, creativity, and artistic talent. Novels that tell stories, often dismissed as genre fiction, can be quite literary. Only a tiny assembly of showoff literary critics pay any attenti…

To make up an original story and tell it well requires narrative skill, creativity, and artistic talent. Novels that tell stories, often dismissed as genre fiction, can be quite literary. Only a tiny assembly of showoff literary critics pay any attention to plotless artsy-fartsy novels marketed as so-called "literary" fiction. In truth, these fraudulent books, forced upon millions of hapless college students, have given literature a bad name and have discouraged what has become a lost art--reading for pleasure.  The promotors of these awful books, mainly literature professors and certain literary critics, should be ashamed of themselves for making intelligent readers feel inferior for not being able to read and enjoy these dense, humorless, and lifeless novels.

Thornton P. Knowles

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Uncategorized

Thornton P. Knowles On “Literary” Novels Without Plots

To make up an original story and tell it well requires narrative skill, creativity, and artistic talent. Novels that tell stories, often dismissed as genre fiction, can be quite literary. Only a tiny assembly of showoff literary critics pay any attenti…

To make up an original story and tell it well requires narrative skill, creativity, and artistic talent. Novels that tell stories, often dismissed as genre fiction, can be quite literary. Only a tiny assembly of showoff literary critics pay any attention to plotless artsy-fartsy novels marketed as so-called "literary" fiction. In truth, these fraudulent books, forced upon millions of hapless college students, have given literature a bad name and have discouraged what has become a lost art--reading for pleasure.  The promotors of these awful books, mainly literature professors and certain literary critics, should be ashamed of themselves for making intelligent readers feel inferior for not being able to read and enjoy these dense, humorless, and lifeless novels.

Thornton P. Knowles

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Uncategorized