Inmate Confesses To Murdering His 14-Year-Old Classmate In 1984: ‘I Was Living In Denial’

Steven Carlson said he was 16 and “full of rage” when he stabbed Tina Faelz 44 times.

January 05, 2022
Tina Faelz smiling in front of a blue/green background

Tina Faelz

Photo by: Remembering Tina Faelz/Facebook

Remembering Tina Faelz/Facebook

Tina Faelz

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Almost four decades after a teenage girl in California was found brutally murdered, her former classmate confessed to the crime in a series of letters, writing his “deepest apologies” were “way overdue.”

On April 5, 1984, freshman Tina Faelz, 14, was stabbed 44 times while she was walking home from Foothill High School in Pleasanton.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday, having my mom sit outside my bedroom door for me to fall asleep as an 8-year-old because we didn’t know who it was, and I didn’t know if I was next,” the victim’s brother, Drew Faelz, told San Francisco’s KPIX-TV.

Detectives eyed multiple potential persons of interest over the course of the murder investigation, ranging from those close to the slain teenager to serial killers, but they were never able to make an arrest.

For more on this story, watch "The Freshman" episode of Investigation Discovery's A Time To Kill.

In 2011, investigators cracked the cold case when DNA recovered from a spot of blood on the victim’s purse linked Carlson to the crime. Carlson, who was 16 when Faelz died, was ultimately convicted as an adult of second-degree murder and sentenced to serve 16 years behind bars.

Carlson initially maintained he was innocent, but in advance of his first parole hearing in 2020 he wrote three letters, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, and confessed to fatally stabbing Faelz with a butcher knife.

“I was living in denial for many years; not being able to believe or take responsibility for brutily [sic] murdering you on that day of April 5, 1984,” he wrote in one letter addressed to his victim.

Carlson said he wanted Faelz and her family to know she did “nothing to deserve” what happened to her. He added: “[That’s] what makes this murder so callous and horrific."

Carlson wrote he was drunk and “full of rage” the day he killed Faelz because some of his football player classmates had bullied him and thrown him into a dumpster, according to the Pleasanton Weekly.

Carlson explained he was also upset because he feared his parents’ reaction after they found out their bedroom sustained damage during a party he had thrown.

“Everything [happened] so fast,” Carlson wrote. “I remember going to [the] kitchen and [grabbing] a butcher knife. I walked across the street into the field at the ‘gully’ that’s where at the time was Tina Faelz."

Carlson claimed he couldn’t remember stabbing the girl dozens of times in the field across from his home, but he recalled “standing over her bloody body holding a bloody knife.”

The victim’s brother, Drew Faelz, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s relieved Carlson finally admitted to the slaying but noted “it doesn’t resolve anything."

In a statement to the publication, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew said Carlson’s confession “seems like too little too late.”

Carlson’s next parole hearing is reportedly scheduled for 2023.

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