A police spokesman says Tichleman was identified as a suspect after it was determined that she had an “ongoing prostitution relationship” with the 51-year-old man.
Police did not release the victim’s name, but local media reports have identified him as Forrest Hayes, a Silicon Valley executive who had worked for Google and other tech companies. An obituary posted after his death says he was married, and the father of five.
Investigators say they've determined that Tichleman provided the heroin and administered what turned out to be the fatal dose.
“The victim died of a heroin overdose as a result of the injection provided by Ms. Tichleman,” Deputy Chief Steve Clark said in a statement Tuesday announcing the arrest.
As part of their investigation detectives obtained security footage from the yacht that shows the man suffering medical complications and lapsing into unconsciousness from the heroin.
But, instead of trying to give aid or calling for help, police say Tichleman gathered her belongings, including the heroin and needles, then stepped over the apparently dead man several times.
“At one point, she steps over the body to finish a glass of wine,” Clark said in the statement.
Just before she left the yacht, police say Tichleman lowered a blind to conceal the body from outside view.
As police continued to investigate the death, a detective lured Tichleman, who is from the Sacramento area-community of Folsom, back to Santa Cruz by posing as a potential client.
Police say she agreed to travel to Santa Cruz for a fee of $1,000. When she arrived in the city on July 4 she was arrested.
Tichleman is being held on suspicion of second degree murder, destruction of evidence, and transporting and providing narcotics.
Detectives say they've found another case with similar circumstances in another state, and are looking into Tichleman’s possible involvement.