Police reopen ‘Monkey Man’ death

Linked to local grad, Google death



MILTON, Ga. – A former Northview High School student may be the link to the deaths of Google executive Forrest Hayes in Santa Cruz, California and Dean Riopelle, of Milton, known as the “Monkey Man.”

Riopelle, 53, was the owner of the Masquerade concert venue in Atlanta, but better known to Hopewell Road residents for his large animal preserve specializing in primates – monkeys. He and some neighbors came to loggerheads in 2012 when he approached the city to expand his collection of animals and open a preserve.

Riopelle went into a coma and died in September 2013 of what was initially considered a heart attack by family but what the Fulton County Coroner later called an overdose of heroin and Oxycodone.

At the same time, he was dating Alix Catherine Tichelman, 26, a 2005 Northview High School graduate, and aspiring model and prostitute. She was recently arrested in California in the death of Google executive Forrest Hayes, 51, who died of an apparent overdose of heroin that a security camera shows Tichelman administered. The footage from the man’s death suggests Ticherman watched Hayes convulse and go unconscious before finishing her drink and leaving him. His body was found the next day.

On Sept. 6, 2013, two weeks before Riopelle died, Tichelman was arrested by Fulton County on charges of battery and false reporting of a crime. Riopelle accused her of attacking and biting him.

Because of the similarities in the two deaths, Milton Police Spokesman Capt. Shawn McCarty said the Police Department is taking another look at Riopelle’s case.

“There was nothing to make us believe any foul play to begin with, but we are going back over the case to make sure,” McCarty said. “Given the similarities in the two cases, we are just making sure nothing was missed.”

Riopelle was an owner and president of The Masquerade, a popular downtown concert venue and the lead singer of the band the Impotent Sea Snakes, a rock and roll band known for their sexually explicit lyrics and performances.

Milton City Councilman Matt Kunz was a close friend of Riopelle for several years before he first came into the public eye. The two met when Riopelle was coaching youth football.

“We lost a good resident that people cared about deeply,” Kunz said of Riopelle.

Kunz said he had met Tichelman several times when he visited Riopelle’s Hopewell Road home, but had little interaction with her. Kunz did say Riopelle had problems with her.

“He threw her out of his house several times over her drug use,” Kunz said.

Riopelle told Kunz he did this because he was not a drug user himself.

“[Riopelle] was not a drug user,” said Kunz. “I have never known him to use drugs at all.”

Several weeks before Riopelle fell into a coma, Tichelman was arrested on battery charges for biting him. Tichelman was the one who called police in September claiming she found him unconscious in his home.

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