Prison Inmate Confesses to Killing 14-Year-Old Tina Faelz in 1984 When He Was 16

"I want you and your family to know you did absolutly nothing to deserve what I did to you," Steven Carlson wrote in one of three letters admitting his guilt

Tina Faelz
Tina Faelz. Photo: Remembering Tina Faelz/Facebook

The killer of a 14-year-old girl in 1984 has confessed — six years after he was convicted of her murder.

Steven Carlson was 16 when he brutally murdered Tina Faelz on April 5, 1984, in Pleasanton, California. Carlson was convicted in 2014, but has maintained he was innocent of the stabbing death until now.

In three letters obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Carlson admits to killing his younger classmate by stabbing her with a kitchen knife 44 times. Of the three letters, one is a nine-page "insight" statement written for state parole commissioners, one is to Faelz's family and one is to his victim.

"This letter of my deepest apologies is way over due," Carlson wrote in one letter. "I was living in denial for many years; not being able to believe or take responsibility for brutily murdering you on that day of April 5, 1984. I want you and your family to know you did absolutly nothing to deserve what I did to you. Thats what makes this murder so callous and horrific."

According to the Chronicle, Carlson killed Faelz while in a drunken rage after he had been bullied at school earlier in the day after attempting to throw a party at his house while his parents were out of town.

Steven Carlson
Steven Carlson. Alameda County Sheriff's Office

Carlson said that he hadn't planned to commit murder that day, but was overcome when he saw Faelz walking home from school in the field across the street from his house.

"I remember being full of rage at the way all my classmates were laughin at me, and the damage my parents room was in and how my dad was going to whip up on me after they found out about the party I threw," he wrote. "Everything happen so fast. I remember going to kitchen and grabed a butcher knife. I walked across the street into the field at the ‘gully’ that’s where at the time was Tina Faelz."

"I don’t remember the stabbing motions," Carlson wrote in one letter. "I just remember standing over her bloody body holding a bloody knife."

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In one letter, Carlson wrote, "You were just minding your own business, having to walk home by yourself and have to walk through that scary drainage tunnel could have also been terrifying to a 14 year old girl; but only to be horrifically suprized by me attacking and brutily murdering you."

Carlson — who was in jail for other crimes at the time — was arrested in 2011 after DNA found on Faelz's purse matched his. He was convicted three years later on a first-degree murder charge and sentenced to 26 years in prison. In 2017, his charge was changed to second-degree murder by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco and 10 years were removed from his sentence.

Faelz's brother Drew told the Chronicle that "it is nice knowing that he’s admitting it, it’s 100 percent him. That part makes me feel better to get confirmation, but it doesn’t resolve anything."

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew said in a statement to the outlet that Carlson's confession, 36 years after the crime, is "too little, too late."

"I think of how Drew (Faelz) told me that he couldn’t sleep at night unless his mom sat outside his room because he was afraid his sister’s murderer was going to come kill him, or how he’d be in the grocery store and wonder if the man in line in front of him was the man who murdered his sister," she said.

"The lives of every murder victim’s family members are forever and irreparably changed," Pettigrew added to the Chronicle, "but I think of how much better he may have slept, and how much angst and worry may have been avoided, had the confession come while Drew was still a child. Seems like too little too late in my humble opinion."

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