Steven John Carlson, a 43-year-old transient, was arrested on Sunday for the brutal and fatal stabbing of Pleasanton school girl Tina Faelz in 1984.
Faelz, 14, was found dead on April 5, 1984, in a drainage culvert under Interstate 680, which the school children took as a shortcut. She was stabbed over 15 times.
The bloody murder, which happened on the students' way home in broad daylight, shocked the community at that time.
Carlson and Faelz had been classmates when they were at Foothill High School. According to their former classmates, Carlson had been known as "Creepy Carlson" at school because of his thin body structure, withdrawn appearance and his strange behavior.
Shirley Orosco, Tina's mother, also told a Bay Area News Group reporter in 2005 that Tina was having problems with some classmates at school before a month of her death. Because of it, Tina had stopped riding the bus home.
Some rumor spread that Carlson was involved in Faelz's stabbing, but no one could substantiate it at the then-technologically backward age.
"It's been on everybody's mind for a very long time, and we've always wondered what happened," said Michele Timm, a classmate of both victim and suspect. "It was something that as a class we always talked about. And Steve's name was always in our minds. We always thought he was the one who did it."
"27 years later, I don't remember any particular reason why," she added.
Nowadays, a DNA match, an updated technology, has helped the authorities pinpoint the suspect, Carlson, who was arrested on Sunday morning, just after he was released from Santa Cruz County Jail on an unrelated drug charge.
When Carlson was arrested Sunday morning, he didn't seem surprised. "We put together a probable cause to arrest him based on interviews with witnesses and the biological evidence we got back," said Lt. Jim Knox of the Pleasanton Police Department. "He didn't express a lot of emotion. ... It wasn't consistent with what you would expect."
Carlson, a Santa Cruz transient, doesn't have a permanent address, according to Santa Cruz Sheriff's deputy April Skalland. He was a registered sex offender and previously was arrested for over half a dozen times for nonviolent offenses last year in that county.
Carlson is now being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin without bail. He will be arraigned on Wednesday.