SAN FRANCISCO — The Santa Cruz police officer put it simply in announcing the arrest of a call girl accused of killing a Google executive on his yacht last fall with an overdose of heroin.
"It's an amazing case," Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said at Friday's briefing.
Beyond the surreal circumstances, what's perhaps most amazing is how extremely successful high-tech exec Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51, wound up tangled in the orbit of exotic dancer-turned-prostitute Alix Tichelman, a woman with a thing for the fictitious TV serial killer Dexter and who liked to write poems about drugs.
On the surface, Hayes seems the model Silicon Valley success. Married for 17 years to his wife, Denise, and the father of five children, Hayes started his working life in his native Michigan in the automotive industry before segueing into tech.
There, his résumé includes polished nameplates such as Sun Microsystems and then Apple, where he was senior director of worldwide operations. That led to a post at Google X, the search engine giant's division that is focused on "moon shot" programs, such as the self-driving car and Google Glass.
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None of Hayes' former employers responded to requests for comment from USA TODAY. Google released a statement simply saying: "Our hearts go out to Forrest's family during this difficult time."
Such silence is perhaps not surprising given the shocking circumstances of their onetime employee's tawdry demise. Hayes was found dead Nov. 23 on his boat of a drug overdose after a tryst with Tichelman, whom he solicited via a website, SeekingArrangement.com, whose stated mission is to connect "sugar daddies and sugar babies seeking mutually beneficial relationships and arrangement."
Police have accused Tichelman of injecting Hayes with heroin and then not only failing to help him when he went into convulsions, but rather, per security camera footage aboard Hayes' 50-foot yacht Escape, calmly stepping over his body to sip from a glass of wine before drawing the curtains and departing.
That hardly squares with the picture painted in the memorial passage written up by his family, noting that he was "a loving husband and father. More than anything else he enjoyed spending time with his family at home and on his boat. His brilliant mind, contagious smile, and warm embrace will be missed and cherished in memories by his friends and family."
Meanwhile, friends writing remembrances on a memorial website that has since been taken down but was accessed in archive form almost universally recall a caring boss with a deep passion for his family. One Christmas party even featured a few custom cocktails Hayes had dreamed up, including the War Room Special consisting of vodka, mint, lime and cranberry. That sense of mischief extended to occasional high-speed sprints down local Highway 280 in his modified Porsche.
A former Apple colleague wrote that in times when work got tough, Hayes shined, calming his co-workers with a sense of humor and perspective. He added that the only thing that seemed to ruffle Hayes' feathers was his time away from family, which in turn made him sensitive to co-workers with family demands. Another writer recalled the advice Hayes passed on about getting more child care help at home when a second child arrived and threatened to unbalance the family dynamic.
As clear from the remembrances is the sense of Hayes as an exceedingly practical man whose thoughts were almost immediately followed by action. After becoming fed up with his 40-minute commute from Santa Cruz to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, he promptly bought a hybrid Chevy Volt in order to access car pool lanes.
"We all know Forrest, he is a very practical guy, yet impatient to fix the issue," wrote Mahesh Krishnaswamy on the memorial website before it was taken down, comments that were then reprinted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. "He always came up with fairly simple and elegant solutions — very candid in his opinion, yet reasonable in his judgment and caring with his interactions."
Reasonable judgment is perhaps what Hayes needed most in his final days.