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Trending: Mother of California Murder Victim Dies Same Day as Murder Trial Was to Begin

The family of Shirley Faelz Orosco says she died on the day her daughter's accused murderer was scheduled to go to trial. The trial is now set to begin in September.

PLEASANTON, Ca: Shirley Faelz Orosco holding a photo of daughter, Tina Faelz, who was murdered in 1984.
PLEASANTON, Ca: Shirley Faelz Orosco holding a photo of daughter, Tina Faelz, who was murdered in 1984.
By Autumn Johnson

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:

Contributor Susan Schena, Patch editors Kari Hulac and Tanya Rose contributed to this report.

07016 February 21, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Doesn't seem like Patch is going to be around for the long haul. People across this great country are all saying the same thing: keep it local. I don't believe the quality of writing and reporting here will ever compete with all the great news outlets we already have however, a consistent local news outlet would be ideal in all communities. NJ12 is terrific, they don't talk much about Arkansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Ohio or Maine, they stick w NJ as their name states.
Cat Burke February 22, 2014 at 05:21 PM
As a mother of a Murdered child - my daughter too, was stabbed to death... I couldn't fathom living another 20 years. I'm so sorry your torture lasted so long. The last 2 years we've waited for trial have been 2 years too long. I knew the minute I saw my brutalized daughter bleeding out on the floor my life was over! I'm glad you have left behind the agony of existence Murder leaves us with as mothers. Hope there is something else in death - and that you do find your daughter once more. Because I'm hoping the same thing for myself real soon... SLEEP AND PEACE are finally yours.
Elizabeth Elizabeth March 12, 2014 at 11:55 PM
No matter where in the US his tragedy occurred or in what decade the crime happened it resonates with all of us who wish for the day when children can walk freely and safely to school and where predators of children are kept in prison permanently separated from future victims. How many times do we have to lose our children before we understand that the risk of letting these people out of prison far exceeds the gain, if there is one.
Kathy Strack March 16, 2014 at 12:07 AM
Why are there only 12 comments about this story? Computer company failure? I hadn't read about this pervert who killed the young teenager until a minute ago, re: his 1st day in court. He had other assault & battery arrests, swore at school & put fear in many. WHY didn't the school call the police to pick him up & send him to juvenile court? Even his parents must've been aware of his aberrant, sick personality & should have gotten counseling, etc.for him. Now, he doesn't seem like a human being; more like a rabid dog. They are 'put to sleep'----need I say more?
Autumn Johnson April 04, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Tina Faelz' Family Reflects, Says Sadness Killed Mom Some 30 Years Later http://pleasanton.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/tina-faelz-family-reflects-says-sadness-killed-mom-some-30-years-later

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