A convicted killer, found guilty of murdering a teenage girl in California decades ago, eventually admitted he carried out the fatal stabbing in a series of disturbing prison letters after spending years in “denial.”
Steven Carlson confessed to killing his 14-year-old classmate, Tina Faelz, in Pleasanton, California in 1984, according to three jailhouse letters obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle Herald.
The trio of letters — one to a parole board, another to Faelz’s family, and a third to the late teen herself — came six years after Carlson’s conviction in the killing. He was 16 at the time. During his trial Carlson maintained he was innocent, according to the East Bay Times.
In the newly released notes, however, Carlson admitted he lived in denial for years and confessed to the “callous” deed.
"This letter of my deepest apologies is way over due," he penned in one letter, according to the Chronicle Herald. "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."
Carlson also described the anger surging through him the day he stabbed Faelz 44 times using a butcher knife. Before cornering Faelz with a kitchen blade as she walked home from school, Carlson recounted how he was bullied over a house-party he tried to throw at his parents’ home.
"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 said. "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."
Carlson, who wrote that he blacked out, claimed he later awoke hovering over Faelz’s lifeless body.
"I don’t remember the stabbing motions," he wrote. "I just remember standing over her bloody body holding a bloody knife.
In 2011, Carlson, who was already jailed at the time, was linked to Faelz’s murder after blood found on the dead teenager’s handbag matched his DNA, the Mercury News reported.
"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 wrote.
Faelz’s family, surprised by the confession 36 years after her death, were adamant, however, that Carlson’s words were of little comfort.
"It is nice knowing that he’s admitting it, it’s 100 percent him,” Faelz’s brother, Drew, told the Chronicle Herald. “That part makes me feel better to get confirmation, but it doesn’t resolve anything."
Prosecutors, too, agreed. Carlson’s confession came "too little, too late," said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew, who recalled the damning impact the teen’s murder had on the family.
"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.
She said the unsolved slaying “irreparably changed” Faelz’s family.
"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,” she added.
Carlson was originally sentenced to 26 years in prison for Faelz's killing; however, his sentence was reduced to 10 years in 2017, after courts changed his conviction from first to second-degree murder, according to the Pleasanton Weekly.
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