News

36 years later: Former classmate confesses to murder of Pleasanton's Tina Faelz

Admission written in letters to parole board, family, victim

Tina Faelz (File photo)

Convicted killer Steven Carlson has confessed to the murder of 14-year-old Tina Faelz as she was walking home from Foothill High School in Pleasanton on April 5, 1984. The confession comes six years after Carlson was convicted of stabbing Faelz 44 times with a kitchen knife as she took a shortcut home from school, walking on a path that connected through Aster Court to Lemonwood Way and through the I-680 underpass to her Valley Trails home.

Carlson, who was 16 at the time of the murder, maintained his innocence since his conviction. However, in letters shared by Faelz's family with the San Francisco Chronicle, Carlson admits to the killing.

Steven Carlson (File photo)

Carlson gave the prison officials permission to share the letters -- a nine-page "insight" statement written for state parole commissioners, a letter to the Faelz family and one to Tina -- with the Faelz family, who released them to the Chronicle.

"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."

The case was cold for more than two decades, but in 2011, authorities announced that DNA investigations begun in 2007 linked a spot of blood found on Faelz's purse to Carlson.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support DanvilleSanRamon.com for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

During Carlson’s trial, a former friend testified that on the day Carlson murdered Faelz, Carlson was bullied and tossed into a dumpster at Foothill High School after a confrontation with members of the football team. Carlson claimed he didn’t intend to kill Faelz but was intoxicated and angry over the confrontation earlier that day.

In one letter, Carlson wrote, "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."

A concrete marker stands at the foot of a tree planted at Foothill High School to honor Faelz. (File photo)

To remember Faelz, school officials planted a lilac tree and the marker on the south side of the Foothill High campus. (File photo)

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

Carlson, who then had a criminal record that included convictions for drug crimes and a lewd act on a 13-year-old girl, was arrested and charged with the murder. He was tried as an adult although he was under 18 years old when the crime occurred.

An Alameda County Superior Court convicted Carlson of first-degree murder in 2014. He was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

In 2017, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel reduced the conviction to second-degree murder, saying prosecutors hadn't proved the element of premeditation and deliberate intent needed for a first-degree murder conviction.

Carlson's next parole hearing will be in 2023.

Follow DanvilleSanRamon.com on Twitter @DanvilleSanRamo, Facebook and on Instagram @ for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

36 years later: Former classmate confesses to murder of Pleasanton's Tina Faelz

Admission written in letters to parole board, family, victim

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 1:00 pm
Updated: Sun, Oct 25, 2020, 6:15 pm

Convicted killer Steven Carlson has confessed to the murder of 14-year-old Tina Faelz as she was walking home from Foothill High School in Pleasanton on April 5, 1984. The confession comes six years after Carlson was convicted of stabbing Faelz 44 times with a kitchen knife as she took a shortcut home from school, walking on a path that connected through Aster Court to Lemonwood Way and through the I-680 underpass to her Valley Trails home.

Carlson, who was 16 at the time of the murder, maintained his innocence since his conviction. However, in letters shared by Faelz's family with the San Francisco Chronicle, Carlson admits to the killing.

Carlson gave the prison officials permission to share the letters -- a nine-page "insight" statement written for state parole commissioners, a letter to the Faelz family and one to Tina -- with the Faelz family, who released them to the Chronicle.

"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."

The case was cold for more than two decades, but in 2011, authorities announced that DNA investigations begun in 2007 linked a spot of blood found on Faelz's purse to Carlson.

During Carlson’s trial, a former friend testified that on the day Carlson murdered Faelz, Carlson was bullied and tossed into a dumpster at Foothill High School after a confrontation with members of the football team. Carlson claimed he didn’t intend to kill Faelz but was intoxicated and angry over the confrontation earlier that day.

In one letter, Carlson wrote, "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 also wrote. "I just remember standing over her bloody body holding a bloody knife."

Carlson, who then had a criminal record that included convictions for drug crimes and a lewd act on a 13-year-old girl, was arrested and charged with the murder. He was tried as an adult although he was under 18 years old when the crime occurred.

An Alameda County Superior Court convicted Carlson of first-degree murder in 2014. He was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.

In 2017, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel reduced the conviction to second-degree murder, saying prosecutors hadn't proved the element of premeditation and deliberate intent needed for a first-degree murder conviction.

Carlson's next parole hearing will be in 2023.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.