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Murder of Tina Faelz by Steven Carlson investigated on A Time To Kill

Mugshot of Steven Carlson
Steven Carlson was convicted of the murder of Tina Faelz after three decades. Pic credit: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

A Time To Kill examines the disturbing murder of schoolgirl Tina Faelz by schoolboy Steven Carlson in their hometown of Pleasanton, California, in 1984.

On April 5, 1984, 14-year-old Tina Faelz decided to avoid the bullies on the school bus by walking home from her High School. Unfortunately, while walking on a connecting path, she encountered 16-year-old Carlson, who was armed with a kitchen knife and full of rage.

Carlson stabbed Faelz a shocking 44 times before leaving her body to be found in a drainage culvert along a nearby highway. The cops were hit by a lack of evidence, and the case soon went cold, remaining unsolved for decades. Thankfully, the police did hold onto a drop of blood that they found on Faelz’s purse, which was hanging from a nearby tree.

In 2007, cold-case detectives decided to take another look at the murder, and they analyzed that blood sample for DNA. It took another four years before the cops successfully linked Carlson to the murder. The blood sample was a critical piece of evidence that helped put the killer behind bars.

The killer already had a lengthy criminal record that included convictions for drug crimes and a lewd act on a 13-year-old girl. However, he continued to maintain his innocence in the Faelz case.

During his trial, a former friend of Carlson testified that the killer had been a victim of bullying earlier on the day of the murder and had been in a rage over the incident.

In 2014, he was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison. In 2017, an appeals court reduced his sentence to second-degree murder.

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Steven Carlson eventually admitted to killing Tina Faelz

But that wasn’t the end of the matter. In 2020, Carlson made a full confession in a letter he wrote to Faelz’s family. In the letter, he confirmed what his friend had said at his trial six years previously and admitted to being in a rage on the day of the murder.

Carlson wrote: “Everything happen so fast. I remember going to kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. I walked across the street into the field at the ‘gully’ that’s where at the time was Tina Faelz. [sic]” He added: “I don’t remember the stabbing motions. I just remember standing over her bloody body holding a bloody knife.”

This case drew lots of media attention and was previously the subject of other true crime shows featured on TV, including the Cold Case Files.

More from A Time To Kill

Follow the links to read about more murderers who decided it was a time to kill.

Mitchell Jones Jr. was stabbed multiple times in his own home in Austell, Georgia. The cops used groundbreaking technology to hunt down Dunte Lamont Holmes for the killing; they used Google data to track the killer’s smartphone.

Timothy Parlin and Shawn Gant-Benalcazar went on a mini crime-spree in Austin, Texas, embarking on home invasion and murder. They were finally caught when a vehicle was linked to Parlin, and Gant-Benalcazar admitted to killing Kathy Blair.

A Time To Kill airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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