Brian Keith Hawkins of Redding, California confessed to the murder of Frank Wesley McAlister during a televised interview with KRCR News that aired this week, then turned himself in to local authorities.
The 44-year-old Hawkins refused to give any details about the killing in Tuesday's interview but said living with the secret had been "absolutely disgusting".
"He refused to answer any questions about the case itself but said he wanted people to know that he had found God, and that is what led him to finally do the right thing and confess".
In the years since the crime, Hawkins has found religion and credits his belief in God and Christ to have pushed him to do the right thing - although he admits that he understands he can't change what happened.
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However, in a dramatic unfolding of events decades later, Hawkins on Tuesday gave a statement to the police confessing to McAlister's murder. Both were arraigned in Shasta County Superior Court on Friday afternoon and charged with murder, robbery, and two special circumstances: lying in wait and murder during the commission of a robbery, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said.
Investigators said that after they were taken into custody, one of the Culvers confessed to their part in the crime, though it was not revealed which one came forward. All three are being held on suspicion of homicide at the Shasta County Jail.
Hawkins said that he had lived his life "blind" before he found Christianity.
During the interview, a teary-eyed Hawkins told the news channel: "I've been through hell my whole life because of this".
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Hawkins at one point a year ago had even reached out to McAlister's family with the intention of revealing the truth and asking for forgiveness, however McAlister's father passed away before he could make it out. He told them that the trio initially wanted to rob the young man. "By the time I got there, his father had passed away", said Hawkins.
Hawkins said he seeks forgiveness.
"I'm not running. I just need someone that cares". As a result of Hawkins' confession, Redding police immediately searched out and rounded up two of his alleged accomplices: 46-year-old Shanna Culver and her brother, 45-year-old Curtis Culver. "It's kinda weird that Frank never even got to have a life and neither did I", he said in the interview, spotted by Uproxx on Thursday.
Shanna Culver, who was 16 at the time of the killing, told police this week that the four were in the auto, but that McAlister dropped her, her brother and Hawkins off near a Redding park - similar to the story police said the trio had told before.
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