Pleasanton, Calif. – Decades after the murder of Tina Faelz, her mother, Shirley Faelz Orosco, will never know the outcome of her daughter's case.
The mother of a Pleasanton teen murdered in 1984 died unexpectedly on Feb. 13— the day the trial was scheduled to begin for Steven J. Carlson, her daughter's accused killer.
Karin Reiff, Orosco's sister, is devastated over the loss of her sister.
"My sister went through almost 20 years of hell after Tina's death and I think she finally died of a broken heart," Reiff said.
According to a post on the "Remembering Tina Faelz Facebook" page, Reiff says Orosco's sudden death shocked and saddened their family.
To all you nice people who cared about my sweet niece Tina Faelz and my precious sister Shirley Faelz Orosco, I wanted you to know that Shirley suddenly passed away yesterday at her home. Her family was all shocked and saddened by this terrible news. It happened on the day Tina's trial was starting. Shirley and Tina, mother and daughter, are together again--as they should have always been. I'm sure they are happy to be together and are at peace and smiling. I will and do miss my sister and always will. I remember her playing MAKE ME LAUGH when we were kids and always taking care of her bothers and me. Give Tina and brother Denny and Ma and Pa a kiss from me and your brothers Shirley and we will always miss you. Love Your sister Karin and your brothers, Mike and Richey. Forever in our Hearts!
Reiff remembers her sister, the oldest of five children, as a caregiver.
"She became a whole new person when she became pregnant with Tina," Reiff said. "Tina (and eight years later, Drew) was her life. I remember when Tina was about 3-years-old, and was hit by a car on Castro Valley Blvd. and went flying for quite a few feet. She had a broken back and was in a body cast for 18 months. Shirley carried her everywhere. She was a very good mom."
Steven J. Carlson, the man accused of murdering Tina Faelz, was scheduled to begin his trial on Feb. 13, after the case had been continued several times last year and the trial was continued yet again.
According officials at the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, Carlson's trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 22 at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse.
[Related article: Trial Continued for Suspect Accused in 1984 Murder of Tina Faelz]
Carlson, 45, was arrested in August of 2011 in the killing of Foothill High student, Tina Faelz, who was 14 when she was stabbed 44 times while walking home from school in Pleasanton. Carlson, a registered sex offender with a criminal history involving drugs and battery, was arrested after police were tipped off by an FBI analysis of evidence collected at the scene of in 1984.
[Related article: Trial Date Set in Killing of Foothill High Student Tina Faelz]
Police tracked Carlson down thanks to new DNA technology that wasn't available at the time of the killing. They were able to identify blood on a purse found hanging from a tree at the killing scene as being from Carlson.
On April 5, 1984, Tina Faelz, a 14-year-old Foothill High freshman, was stabbed to death in a culvert that once crossed beneath Interstate 680, while she was walking home from school. Fellow students discovered her body shortly afterward. Now, 27 years later, Carlson has been charged in the killing.
Pleasanton Police said Carlson lived close to the path on which Faelz was killed, a popular shortcut that passed east of the school underneath the freeway to the Valley Trails neighborhood. He said it would have been easy for the suspect to know which students used that route to walk home. (For a map showing the school area, click here.)
Carlson, 45, is being held without bail at Santa Rita jail.
Past Pleasanton Patch coverage of Tina Faelz murder case:
- Steven Carlson Ordered to Stand Trial for the Murder of Tina Faelz
- Suspect in Tina Faelz Slaying Will be Tried as Adult
- Witness: Carlson Made Incriminating Comment The Day After…
- Friends, Relatives Leave Heartfelt Messages For Murder Victim Tina Faelz on Facebook
- Friends of Slaying Victim Tina Faelz Remember Her as Kind…
- Steven Carlson Pleads Not Guilty to 1984 Slaying of Tina Faelz
- Slaying Suspect Steven Carlson May Face Contempt Charges For Granting Jailhouse Interview
- Slaying Suspect Steven Carlson Gets New Attorney, Will Remain in Juvenile Court Until After the New Year
- Pleasanton Police Keeping DNA Evidence Quiet For Now
- Suspect in Tina Faelz Case Makes First Court Appearance
Contributor Susan Schena, Patch editors Kari Hulac and Tanya Rose contributed to this report.