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Mother of 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. Photo provided by Karin Reiff
PLEASANTON, Ca: Shirley Faelz Orosco holding a photo of daughter, Tina Faelz, who was murdered in 1984. Photo provided by Karin Reiff
By AUTUMN JOHNSON

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 30 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.

timothy February 18, 2014 at 04:57 PM
I met Shirley at an event a number of years ago. She was such a sweet lady. RIP Shirley.
Steven Narbonne February 18, 2014 at 05:47 PM
Our system of "justice" at its finest.
Dale Thomas February 19, 2014 at 09:21 AM
It is taking 30 years just to bring this murderer to trial? Our judicial system leaves one heck of a lot to be desired.
Mari February 19, 2014 at 09:41 AM
God Bless all of you why such a tragic event happened to a nice, warm family... Kerin and family I hope you find the strength needed to continue your sisters and nieces legacy on earth. Don't forget you are not alone.
Sharon February 19, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Much love to all of you. Such pain is hard to bear and I hope you all find comfort and love as you endure each day of these tragic losses. "Justice" certainly is hard to find these days and even when it comes, it comes often far too late. :-(
Ben Novick February 19, 2014 at 01:21 PM
We need to stop making excuses for the reactive mentally illI. So what if they are sick? I believe registered sex offenders need to be put to death because there is no cure for them, and they will only come back time and againt to harm society. Imagine this girl, Tina, having survived being hit by a car and having had a broken back, only to have been stabbed to death while walking to school. Now, at least she and her mother are together again, and Mom knows it wasn't her fault. If I worked in the jail where they are holding this b*stard, I would make a few errors in the paperwork, and put him in with the regular population.
MiMi February 19, 2014 at 01:48 PM
The woman probably died of a broken heart which was *STRESSED OUT* to the limit. MAY she RIP. I hope the murderer gets what he deserves.
Karin Reiff February 19, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Autumn, maybe I made an error in my note to you, but's was actually 30 years, not 20 years that Shirley had to suffer while waiting for a "resolution" of this tradegy.http://www.facebook.com/karin.reiff/posts/620870704628361
Autumn Johnson (Editor) February 19, 2014 at 03:12 PM
No problem, Karin. I fixed it. Thank you again for sharing your story with us. Shirley will be missed in Pleasanton.
Colleen Charles February 28, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Memories of Shirley, from her brother Rich: I remember my sister Shirley as my babysitter, my protector and my friend. She took me everywhere as a child. We laughed, we shared and we got in a lot of trouble together from opposite sides of the coin. Our mother was a great detective that would find our bus transfers and corner first one of us, then the other, till she found out where we snuck off to to have fun. She often took me places like joke and novelty stores. She took me swimming. she played with me and gave me a lot of reasons to laugh in a world that was sometimes very confusing to me I remember also playing jokes on her and my other sister Karin. Both of them would wait for boyfriends to call at the upstairs phone, and i would sit under the dining table with my dads phone tester ringer and ding it away to watch the both of them scramble . no it's my boyfriend calling! I also remember watching a lot of family programs with Shirley and a lot of her favorite movies. One of her favorite actresses (at least the only one i remember) also died this week, Shirley Temple. I even remember singing "good ship lollipop" with Shirley. Shirley was pet named Squirley by the family, but she was very very smart. If there was someone that helped me on any of my homework, I believe it was her. She was also hard to anger. but look out if you did get her mad. One of my friends Richard Bowen found out how her temper worked. She had the old circlular puffed up hair style then and it was colored bright orange. He called her basketball head and finally for about the last time, that little teenage girl jumped allllll over his shit. She backed him right down the side of his house and said how she would kick his ass if he ever did it again. He stood a good 6 inches tallet than her, even then (she was 7 years older than us). Well he never called her the Sqirley or Basketball Head names again. Shortly after that, she moved up to Everett, WA and had Tina where we visited her a few times. She then moved back down here and had her son Drew. i visited all of them by bus out there often and she visited us. When Tina passed we went to Yosemite and buried her ashes behind a church. Until her husband Ron reminded me, I had not remembered her laugh. It was so short . a small giggle. oh Richie haha. My sister was so sweet with two really great kids. God, I will miss her. For all those who have posted over the years, I thank you. I have seen the monuments to her daughter and they are a monument to her son as well and to her. Shirley is happy now. She finally may rest with daughter where they can hold each other in their arms. Shirley was a good person with a good and sincere heart that loved her children, her family and her friends. Thanks for all who shared. I have found a reason to cry as a brother, and move on as a friend. Shirley would want to be remembered and to be set free gently and gracefully in Gods good hands. In my own heart I know I will see her again and not forget her. Amen
Karin Reiff March 02, 2014 at 01:29 PM
Richey---brother dear----I just saw this and LOVE what you wrote. It reminds me of things I forgot and now remember those beautiful memories again.(old mind). Thank You for that. I hope you'll be able to read this at Shirley's services because it is beautiful I love you Richey. Love, your sister Karin Reiff
Autumn Johnson (Editor) March 20, 2014 at 08:43 AM
Obituary of Shirley Faelz Orosco http://pleasanton.patch.com/groups/obituaries/p/obituary-of-shirley-faelz-orosco
Autumn Johnson (Editor) April 04, 2014 at 10:40 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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