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Murder in Pleasanton: Interview with Joshua Suchon (Part 1)

Murder in Pleasanton: Interview with Joshua Suchon (Part 1)

In 1984 the town of Pleasanton, CA was rocked to its core when a 14-year-old freshman was found brutally murdered in a drainage ditch. The victim had been stabbed 44 times with no witnesses and little evidence left behind. The case eventually ran cold.

That freshman was Tina Faelz and this is her story.

In this three-part series, we are talking to Joshua Suchon, author of the book Murder in Pleasanton: Tina Faelz and the Search for Justice, about the murder, the case, and the search for justice.

Ben Morris:
Thursday, April 5th, 1984, Pleasanton, California, a normal afternoon and a normal American city, school day, a work day. Everyone in town carving out their own little slice of the American dream. But by that Thursday evening, nothing in Pleasanton would ever be the same. A high school student, Tina Faelz was found dead on her way home from school. Not just dead, murdered violently, like it was personal.

Ben Morris:
There was hardly any evidence, no witnesses, no weapon, just a city left in horror, fear and shock. How could this happen? Why her? Why here? The Pleasanton community were coiled, terrified that Tina's killer was still at large. For months, as the perpetrator alluded capture, locals struggled to sleep at night, to commute to work or school, to let their kids out of their site.

Ben Morris:
Leads that seemed promising at first, evaporated. Eventually, Tina's case grew colder. Eventually, it was put on ice, but one of those kids, only a fifth grader at the time, would return to it years later, partly because he couldn't shake it, partly because of his professional curiosity as a journalist. But partly because if you live in a small town yourself you'll understand, he had known the killer, they'd gone to the same school.

Ben Morris:
That kid, Joshua Suschon wrote a book about the case published by The History Press. For the first episode of the Crime Capsule podcast, we are honored to have him join us to talk about this case, his book, and the day that for Pleasanton, the American dream became a living nightmare.

Ben Morris:
The murder of Tina Faelz has gripped central California, pretty much since the day it happened. You have such a unique connection to the case. How did you come to tell this story after so long?

Joshua Suschon:
This was a story that when you lived in Pleasanton, you couldn't help know it. April 5th, 1984, I was in the fifth grade. I lived five blocks down the street from Tina. I went to the same school as Tina and her younger brother. I was a newspaper delivery boy for the local paper, which was called the Tri-Valley Herald. And so, I literally delivered the news to people by putting newspapers on their front porch or in their driveway the next morning, to let people know about it.

Joshua Suschon:
And then I remember we got to school and it's all we talked about before school, during breaks and classes, when we were supposed to be listening to the teacher at lunch, for weeks and weeks, it's all we talked about. It just became this crazy mystery about what happened to Tina and why we didn't know what happened to Tina?

Ben Morris:
I want you to take us to April 4th, to Pleasanton before this happened?

Joshua Suschon:
Pleasanton, California is every bit the way that it sounds. It's pleasant. It's a very pleasant place, but in 1984, it's a place where you bought your first house to start raising your family. My parents moved us there in 1981 and it was because it was affordable. It was one of the few places where you could buy a house. It was fairly remote.

Joshua Suschon:
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system did not reach Pleasanton at the time. So there was two different highways going east, west, north, and south that would get you there. So it was a good proximity to reach other places in the Bay Area, but it was really sleepy. There wasn't a whole lot of people who were there. You didn't have a whole lot of jobs there.

Joshua Suschon:
It was quiet. It was safe. There were very few murders that had ever taken place in Pleasanton. If you're a young family, it was an ideal place to raise kids.

Ben Morris:
It sounds from your description, like it's a great place to grow up, but Pleasanton had kind of a darker side to it. It wasn't a perfect place to grow up. It had violence, it had some addiction, it had substance abuse, broken relationships, drugs and alcohol were kind of everywhere. They were rampant, weren't they?

Joshua Suschon:
Well, it was the '80s, and yeah, there wasn't a whole lot to do, and kids get bored. Put it this way, I remember going to junior high dances and being stunned at the number of kids who were drunk at junior high, seventh and eighth grade dances. And then by the time you got to high school, there was a smoking section at Foothill High School. There was a dedicated area where kids could smoke cigarettes.

Joshua Suschon:
Now, it was not legal to buy cigarettes, but yet there was a dedicated spot on campus for students to smoke.

Ben Morris:
Part of the shock of this crime was the intimacy of the setting. Everybody walked and they rode their bikes to school and the neighborhood was safe. Folks knew each there. How could a crime like this take place?

Joshua Suschon:
Well, that's what made people so worried and scared, was how could this take place? So to give you a little background about Tina's neighborhood, my neighborhood, it was called Valley Trails. And when Foothill High School first opened, the kids realized that there was a faster way to get to school, and that was by going literally across Interstate 680.

Joshua Suschon:
And soon enough, the police, the administration realized that this is not very safe to have kids crossing this two-lanes-each-direction highway. And so they told kids, "Please stop doing that." Well, there was this tunnel that went underneath Interstate 680, and that allowed kids if they were brave enough, because it was dark, it was long, it was kind of spooky. There'd be water in there. There might be rats that were in there. It was big enough that you could ride bicycle through there. That's how kids in Valley Trails, in Val Vista would take a shortcut in order to get to Foothill High School, if they weren't taking the bus or if they didn't have a car, or if their parents weren't driving them to school.

Ben Morris:
For all of its kind of outwardly perfect appearance, Pleasanton was home to just as many troubles and broken relationships as any small town in America. And Tina's own family was proof of that, wasn't it?

Joshua Suschon:
Yeah. Tina definitely lived a tough life. Her biological father lived in the State of Washington. Her adopted father and her mother were recently divorced. Her adopted father was living in Castro Valley. She was living in Pleasanton with her mom and her younger brother, and her mom was someone who would on a regular basis, go out to the bars at night. And she ended up with some less than savory characters that the police certainly were very suspicious in the early stages of the investigation.

Joshua Suschon:
And Tina did not have an ideal home life. She was bullied by kids in the neighborhood. She saw the effects of having a broken home, of having adults in her life who were drinking. And I don't know what else they were doing, but I know that alcohol was pretty prevalent. And so, it was not an ideal way to grow up for her.

Ben Morris:
How do you think she handled that?

Joshua Suschon:
Tina, unfortunately was just the girl that got picked on a lot. She didn't wear the most stylish clothes. She didn't have the most perfect haircut for what was trending back then. She wasn't someone who was obsessed with the materialistic things that girls in 1984 in Pleasanton really cared about. She was a tomboy. She didn't really want to grow up. She wanted to just continue riding bikes and being an adolescent.

Joshua Suschon:
And she bonded with her friends over those types of things. She didn't care about lipstick and makeup, and perfume, and all of those types of things, and that made her a target.

Ben Morris:
Can you tell us about some of her friends at the time? Who was she hanging out with? Who was she [inaudible 00:09:07] around with?

Joshua Suschon:
When I researched this book and talked to people who were her friends, her friends adored her and loved her, and always said how funny she was, how she was always coming up with something that would make them laugh, whether it was at her own expense or just whatever. They really thought that she just had this great smile and this just bubbly personality. But those who were not her friends, they despised her. And maybe it was for the same reasons or maybe it wasn't, or maybe sometimes a kid just gets a reputation and then it's like black or white, and you're on one side or you're on the other side.

Joshua Suschon:
But her friends would describe her as someone who loved to go hiking and go for walks, and play at this place called Shadow Cliffs that's on the Pleasanton, Livermore border and would just be super fun.

Ben Morris:
Let's talk a little bit about what happened on April 5th?

Joshua Suschon:
There was a lot of things that happened on that day on campus. It was a very hectic day. Let's start at the beginning. Her mom gave her a ride to school. Tina was using the school bus at the beginning of the school year, which the bus stop was very close to where she lived, and she didn't want to be on the bus because she got picked on at the bus stop while waiting for the bus, and then on the bus.

Joshua Suschon:
So sometimes she would walk. That day, her mom drove her to school. The reason why she had detention is because she was frequently late for school and that's because either A, she was walking, B, she didn't want to arrive early when she might get picked on. And so, she was trying to arrive either just as school was starting or a little bit late in order to avoid the girls who were picking on her.

Joshua Suschon:
Then that day at lunch, a number of girls really got into it with her. They threw rocks at her. They told her that when school gets out, they were going to kick her ass. They called her names. So it was a pretty terrible lunch period that she had. She was scheduled to go to detention that day and she did not. She skipped detention.

Joshua Suschon:
We know that because the teacher who was in charge of detention noted that she was not there. But she did not leave campus immediately, and we don't don't know exactly what she did. She did not walk home immediately. She did not take the bus home. She did not get a ride with somebody. My guess of what she did was either go to the library or go to some place on campus, to hide from the girls who said that they were going to kick her ass.

Joshua Suschon:
She also knew that some of those girls who threatened her were in detention with her as well, so she wanted to avoid detention for that. So when she does finally decide to go home, we do know that she was walking and she left in-between when school got out, and when detention got out, which was sort of right in the middle, where the number of kids who would be walking through the tunnel, taking the shortcut, there wasn't as many, because again, it was in-between the two time periods in which kids would be leaving school and walking through this shortcut.

Ben Morris:
It's interesting because in one sense, she's kind of a survivor up until this point. She's figured out how to minimize the amount of trouble that she is going to receive, or she's figured out these strategies, the timing, where her antagonists are going to be, and we've got to give her some credit for that, don't we?

Joshua Suschon:
Yeah, absolutely. She she's in survival mode at this point. And you think about how nervous she must have been, the amount of anxiety. When kids are throwing rocks at you, and they're saying, "We're going to kick your ass when school gets out."

Joshua Suschon:
Think about what her heart rate must have been like in the last period of the day, and where her mind is, where she's thinking, "What am I going to do? How am I going to avoid this? Am I going to fight back? Am I going to hide? Am I going to run?"

Ben Morris:
Tina was about 14 years old when she was killed, and the murder took place about three o'clock-ish on April 5th. This really is remarkable, her last hours, almost her last minutes are documented in pretty exquisite detail. It was a normal school day. Schedules were fairly tight. People had places to be at certain times, her friends did see her not long at all, before she was killed. And her friends found her not long at all, after she was killed. And it just happened in a flash, didn't it?

Joshua Suschon:
It really did, and that's why I'm convinced that there's no way that someone could have planned this because you'd be foolish to try to plan a murder in broad daylight, in a path that kids take home from school, that's right next to Interstate 680.

Joshua Suschon:
We know that Tina was last seen right around 3:00 PM, very close to 3:00 PM. I had one person who told me that he was walking home and he was behind Tina, and a friend of his came by in a car and said, "Hey, do you want to ride home?" And he said, "Oh yeah, of course. I don't want to have to walk through this tunnel and walk. I'll get a ride home."

Joshua Suschon:
And again, he was behind Tina. He could see Tina, because a friend happened to drive by in a car, he got in it and he didn't see what happened. That's how much of a flash it was.

Ben Morris:
That's incredible. That's seconds, that's minutes.

Joshua Suschon:
Yeah. And again, Tina was last seen alive approximately 3:00 PM, maybe a couple minutes before 3:00 PM. The 911 phone calls, there were multiple that arrived, I believe it was at 3:23. So you're talking about somewhere around... You're talking about a 20 minute window basically, from when she was last seen to when her body was found. And she had been viciously stabbed to death 44 times.

Ben Morris:
But it wasn't her friends who found her, was it?

Joshua Suschon:
No. So there were a number of different people who found the body. The first person, and this is really remarkable, there was a truck driver. He's going south on Interstate 680. He happens to look over to the right and sees something that doesn't look right to him. He thinks that he sees a body, and so he goes down to the next off-ramp, gets off, goes back north on 680.

Joshua Suschon:
He then has to go through the 680/580 interchange in order to get back on 680 going south, pulls his truck. This is a fairly big truck that he pulls over to the side of this two lane highway, gets out of the truck, starts to walk down this embankment, gets close enough that he can see that it is a kid. And there is a lot of blood and realizes that he needs to call for help.

Joshua Suschon:
Cell phones don't exist in 1984, so he gets back into his truck. He goes down to the next exit. He goes to the Pleasanton Fairgrounds looking for a payphone. And he's able to flag down a police officer who happened to be at the Fairgrounds, and she's able to radio in to headquarters that there is potentially a body that is near this culvert, this ditch.

Joshua Suschon:
Meanwhile, at almost the exact same time, two students who knew Tina but were not close friends with her, they were walking home after detention. They see the body, they come running out of that area. They knock on the door of a neighbor, frantic screaming. That neighbor calls 911, and that arrives at about the exact same time as the truck driver who was talking to the police officer.

Joshua Suschon:
And then police immediately descend upon the scene. They're probably there within five minutes in order to discover the body.

Ben Morris:
There's a sort of 20-minute window in which the murder happens, and then suddenly, there's this swarm of activity surrounding the scene of the crime. Once the officers arrived, they found hardly anything. You have a quote from the Police Chief Eastman, who says, "This is the coldest crime scene he has ever seen. There're no fingerprints, there's no murder weapon. There's no evidence of sexual assault, no torn clothing. Just Tina's body stabbed, untold number of times." The only thing they found was her purse hanging from a tree branch. What happened?

Joshua Suschon:
When the Police Chief says, "Coldest crime scene that he's ever seen," that means no clues, nothing. It was obvious that Tina was killed right there. The body had not been moved. That was the exact location where the assault took place. And remember, because there's so many kids who are coming through there, there's footprints everywhere, but this is dirt.

Joshua Suschon:
DNA didn't exist back then. You're talking about fingerprints on Chain link fence or on dirt, or on a tree. Like you said, there was no weapon that was found. It's not like blood went everywhere. Most of the blood soaked into her clothing and she was face down. So there was nothing that the police could initially take and grab and say, "This is our first clue," other than the purse.

Joshua Suschon:
And so, in the purse, they were able to get her report card, which was in there. They had her student ID. They knew that she was a student at Foothill High School. One of the police officers immediately went to the administration building, which is very close by. And they were able start to figure out, "Was she at school? These were her class periods. This is her name. This is her picture."

Joshua Suschon:
So they knew immediately who she was, which meant that they could then immediately go to her house, get her address and be able to talk to her parents, and find out what's going on at her house.

Ben Morris:
Was there any aspect of the surrounding area that had been disturbed in any way?

Joshua Suschon:
No, not really. And again, because we're talking about dirt and bushes and trees, it's not like you can point to one set of footprints that are exiting and saying, "That's the killer's footprints," because there's footprints everywhere. This is where kids hung out, but it's also a place where kids hung out in order to avoid adults seeing them.

Ben Morris:
Where did her killer come from?

Joshua Suschon:
The police didn't know that, that's what they were trying to figure out. And the police didn't know if the killer went through the tunnel and escaped on the other side, underneath Interstate 680, over on the Valley Trail side, or whether the killer escaped in the same neighborhood as where the murder took place, which is the side of the highway on the Foothill High School side.

Joshua Suschon:
They didn't know, but there's pretty much only... And then the third path. So there was an area where the crime scene is located now, that is all houses now. At the time, that area was being developed. And so, there was some construction workers that were laying down what would be a circulus street for all the houses to get built around. They were clearing an area.

Joshua Suschon:
So you either went through this area that was at the beginning stages of being cleared in order to extend this neighborhood, that was one area that you could escape. The second was out the path where the kids went into this neighborhood, and the third area would be through the tunnel, underneath the highway, out the other direction.

Ben Morris:
So we don't know which direction the killer approached her from. With gunshots, there's a trajectory, there's an entry wound, there's an exit wound. You can tell forensically, most of the time where someone was standing when the gun went off. With stab wounds, there's no way to tell which was the first. We don't know if the killer came up from behind, stabbed her from behind first, and then proceeded to continue attacking her.

Joshua Suschon:
It was either a day or two after that the Police Chief, in order to try to get an idea of what the killer might have done, the Police Chief had two teenage daughters, one of which was also a student at Foothill High School. So this was very personal to the Police Chief and the detectives. And so, they set up a camera, and the Police Chief had his daughter walk the exact same path that Tina did and held her books and her backpack in the same way that Tina did, in order to try to replicate what happened as much as possible.

Joshua Suschon:
And so, the detectives, the police officers kind of stood at different areas to try to see, "Okay, if Tina's walking this direction, when would the killer be able to see her? When would the killer be able to surprise her?" And had her do it from a number of different directions, a number of different angles to try to see, was she surprised? Was she from behind? Could you hide in this area and surprise her? Or exactly when would the killer see Tina?

Joshua Suschon:
And even after doing all of that, they still really didn't know what happened because they just couldn't know. It was almost impossible to know because you're talking about a fairly large amount of space where you really can't see a whole lot because of this high grass and this dirt, and these trees. And again, it was an area, there just wasn't a whole lot going on, except kids just goofing around there before the neighborhood gets built up larger.

Ben Morris:
It's crazy, we talk about planning the perfect crime and trying to get away with it, and these criminals who spend months or weeks, or years plotting a murder for which they can never, ever be targeted. And yet, whoever this person is manages to get away with it almost by accident. How do you explain that?

Joshua Suschon:
Fluke. Just a complete fluke, that's how I explain it. Just a complete fluke. There's no way you could have planned this. It was pure luck that nobody saw the killer, and because nobody initially saw the killer, that led to basically 27 years of getting away with it before the police finally arrested the killer.

Ben Morris:
Even in the absence of evidence, minus the purse, they do conduct an autopsy, of course. They set up a task force with, I believe you described 24 employees working 12 to 16 hour shifts. This is an enormous effort on the part of the Pleasanton Police Department. They bring in investigators from outside Pleasanton to aid in the search.

Ben Morris:
What did all this look like in April 1984, April 6th, April 7th, April 8th? What did it look like going forward? Were cops swarming the neighborhood? Were officers knocking on doors every five minutes trying to determine persons of interest?

Ben Morris:
What did this look like in those days after the crime?

Joshua Suschon:
Well, on April 5th, the day of the murder, it was chaos. It was chaos in Valley Trails and in the neighborhood where Tina's body was found. And remember, this is before cell phones. It's before text messaging, it's before social media. And so the way that people found out about it was from landlines, calling each other. There would be kids riding on bicycles and basically anyone who they would see outside, they would tell.

Joshua Suschon:
I remember hearing the police cars come down Valley Trails Drive, and I remember, whenever you would hear the police, it's just what you did, is you just chased after them. You hopped on your bike and you just rode your bike in order to see what the police were doing.

Ben Morris:
We used to do the same thing in Mississippi. We used to do the exact same thing.

Joshua Suschon:
And I remember knowing that this one was different because the police were not allowing anyone to get on to Tina's court unless you lived there. And so, that was a sign that something was different about this one. And then you would start to hear things, and phones are lighting up. They're ringing non-stop. "Oh, I'm hearing this."

Joshua Suschon:
And then Tina's friends and other classmates recall just hearing that, "We think that someone got murdered. Do you know who it was?" And they started to think, "Well, if the person was taking that shortcut, then they must live either in Valley Trails, or they must live in Val Vista." So then they started to just call people, "Hey, are you alive?" "Yeah." "Okay. Have you heard about this?" And then everyone's just calling each other. "Okay, you're picking up the phone.Yes. You're alive. Have you heard anything?" And people are going outside into their courts and into their streets to find out information.

Joshua Suschon:
And again, kids on bicycles became like messengers in order to relay what they're hearing. And then you would hear from some kid on a bicycle, then you'd get on the phone and you'd call somebody, and then they'd call somebody. And so, it was a very primitive social media that was taking place that day. And yes, the police were knocking on doors. They knocked on the doors of everyone in the neighborhood where Tina's body was found. They did that. They went door to door for days and days.

Ben Morris:
Where were you Josh, when you heard?

Joshua Suschon:
I was at home. I was either playing basketball in my driveway or I was doing my homework, is probably what I should have been doing, or I was playing baseball. I was doing something that was related to sports, but I remember hearing the police cars go by our house. And I remember pretty quickly, hearing that something had happened. And then my older sister had heard before I did. And I'm almost positive that she was the one who told me that there was somebody in the neighborhood who had been killed.

Joshua Suschon:
And I didn't know who Tina was. I was aware that there was this girl who lived on this street up away from us, again, about five blocks, but I didn't know her personally. And I remember just being scared, and I remember just thinking... I was really curious and wanted to find out as much as I could, but I was almost scared to ask too many questions, because I felt like as a kid, I wasn't old enough to ask those questions. But still, I was so curious and was just getting information secondhand, thirdhand, about what happened.

Ben Morris:
Do you believe that the Pleasanton PD were properly equipped to respond to this crime?

Joshua Suschon:
Well, it's fair to say they did not have a whole lot of practice in solving murders, and in their defense, DNA technology did not exist back then. There was basically no clues whatsoever and their focus was on the adults. The crime scene was so gruesome. The Police Chief did not want to tell the public at the time, how many times that she was murdered, because he did not want additional fear, but there were 44 stab wounds and they felt like there's no way that a kid could have done this. This was too vicious. This had to be an adult.

Joshua Suschon:
And you always look at the home. You always look, "Who's the mom, who's the dad? Okay. The parents are separated. Okay. Where does the dad live? Was the dad involved? Who is the mom dating? Who is living inside the house? Oh, the mom has a boyfriend and he's living inside the house. What's his story? Oh the mom's boyfriend has some friends and these seem to be some unsavory characters. What is their background? What is their situation?"

Joshua Suschon:
So the primary focus was on the adults, the male adults in Tina's life, who might have wanted to do this because of what? And that was their initial focus.

Ben Morris:
What did the police think could have been the motive for any of these adults, or any of these men in and out of her life at the time?

Joshua Suschon:
They were trying to figure that out. I'm sure that they had a number of theories. I don't want to speak for the detectives in 1984 about what their theories were, but I'm sure it was something along the lines of, "There are some broken relationships here. There are some new adults who are in the lives in some type of relationships, some type of romantic way. And what exactly is going on here with these adults? Why is this girl dead?" And trying to go from there.

Ben Morris:
You mentioned a man named John Anderson who is nicknamed Recon. You mentioned a guy named Keith Fitzwater, both their alibis checked out perfectly. You mentioned the police even suspected the truck driver, Larry Lovall, that his route that day was perfectly intact.

Ben Morris:
You mentioned a guy named Walter Nyman, who had committed a similar crime days later, but there was nothing tying him to this one. How did things proceed?

Joshua Suschon:
So you mentioned Keith Fitzwater, that was the boyfriend of Tina's mom. Tina's mom's name was Shirley and Keith had moved in, and Shirley's family did not like Keith at all. Her brothers and sisters and parents, they did not like Keith at all. And there were some stories that I heard about whether Keith had, had inappropriate contact with Tina when the two of them were alone in a bedroom.

Joshua Suschon:
And so, he was highly suspicious for the police, but as it turned out, there was obvious evidence that he was not involved whatsoever. And in fact, people have later told me that Keith was a great source of strength. He was a rock for Shirley and members of the family, and just the way that he was able to just try to keep everyone's emotions at the right level and just provide comfort for people in those days that followed.

Ben Morris:
So then, if one by one, the investigators are ruling out these potential suspects, these red herrings, so to speak, how did they go forward after they eliminated each one from the lineup?

Joshua Suschon:
Well, that's where it became very discouraging for the Pleasanton Police Department, because you start running out of leads, you chase all of these crazy theories that you hear. You chase all of the plausible theories that you hear, and you don't have anything further to go off, and that's why the case started to get quiet. It went from the front page of the paper for two or three days in a row, to inside the paper, to once every four or five days. And then suddenly, you just didn't see any stories because there wasn't anything new and the police were trying to figure out what's next.

Joshua Suschon:
And then what really started to get the attention of not just the Pleasanton Police, but the entire Bay Area is that there were four girls who were all roughly the same age, and all of them were murdered within about a 10 to 11 month stretch. There was a girl in Sunol, which is the neighboring town of Pleasanton, who was killed in December 1983.

Joshua Suschon:
Tina was murdered in early April 1984, and then there was another girl later that same month who was murdered in Hayward, where the body... or she disappeared and then the body was later found. It was a combination of things like that. And then there was a fourth girl that was also later murdered as well in 1984.

Joshua Suschon:
And so, that's when the idea was that this wasn't someone who Tina knew. It wasn't someone from Pleasanton. It was this crazy person who was going around the Bay Area, targeting girls, and this killer could be anywhere in the Bay Area, could strike anywhere next, that it wasn't that Tina was specifically targeted. It was more a random, along with the other three girls.

Joshua Suschon:
And that's where the task force from Alameda County and Contra Costa County in different jurisdictions, in different cities, they all would get together and they would share the evidence that they had to see if this was a serial killer. And unfortunately for them, what they realized is that other than the age of the girls, and the fact that they were all in the San Francisco Bay Area, there really wasn't any other clues that would connect these four different murders.

Ben Morris:
Did investigators find anything from the autopsy? Was there any evidence they were able to gather there in that process?

Joshua Suschon:
Not really. What they were able to determine is that there was no sexual assault, that was number one. They were able determine that there was not a whole lot of evidence that Tina was able to fight back. It's not like there was a lot underneath her nails. There was not like there was like blood underneath her nails or a lot of skin from the assailant that was underneath her fingernails, which led them to believe that she was probably surprised, or that the first stab wound had such an impact that she was not able to fight back a whole lot.

Ben Morris:
Immediate shock or put in shock, or something like that?

Joshua Suschon:
Yeah. Now the types of stab wounds that were discovered in the autopsy were a combination of... Some of them were more long across the body, but they didn't go very deep. And then there were others that went very deep inside the skin, where you may not see a lot on the surface, but that's because they go so deep. So it was a combination, but they definitely were able to determine that this was overkill.

Joshua Suschon:
And because of the quantity of stab wounds, the police felt like it was probably somebody that she knew because it seemed like it was personal. It wasn't, "A couple of stab wounds and I'm going to run away." When there's 44, it becomes personal and so that's also where they started to think that this was not somebody random. This was somebody who she must have known.

Ben Morris:
Things go quiet, leads are drying up. Autopsy doesn't turn up much new, nothing else found on scene. They mow the grass, they don't find anything in the long grass in the area surrounding the murder.

Ben Morris:
Unofficially, things are starting to get a little louder. There are these whispers among the community of students who knew Tina, her friends, the guys in her grade, there are these whispers of a young man by the name of...

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Murder in Pleasanton: Interview with Joshua Suchon (Part 3)

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In this grand finale, Tina finally gets the justice she deserves!
Listen to Murder in Pleasanton: Interview with Joshua Suchon (Part 3)

Murder in Pleasanton: Interview with Joshua Suchon (Part 2)

Evergreen Podcasts
Listen to Murder in Pleasanton: Interview with Joshua Suchon (Part 2)

Introducing: Crime Capsule

Evergreen Podcasts
Join writer and host Benjamin Morris for interviews with authors from Arcadia Publishing, writing books on the most chilling stories of the past.
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