Frankie Wesley McAlister's brutal and senseless murder haunted the lives of his parents for 25 years and his father died a broken man last October.
The 19-year-old's brutal 1993 stabbing in northern California's Shingletown remained unsolved until last week, when a man walked into a TV station and dropped a bombshell.
Brian Keith Hawkins, now 44, told KRCR that he was "sick of running" and that "God and Christ" and his own conscience had pushed him to admit to his role in McAlister's death.
"I'm going to turn myself in next door at the sheriff's department for a crime I was involved in years ago. It was murder," Hawkins told KRCR.
He said he stabbed and robbed Frankie along with siblings Shanna Culver, 46, and Curtis Culver, 45, and that he could no longer live with his terrible secret.
"[Life has been] horrible, horrible, horrible, absolute horror, absolutely horrible since that day," Hawkins told the station.
"Every minute of every day has been a nightmare. It's kind of weird, Frank never got to have a life, but we were teenagers and now I'm 44 and still haven't even had a life and now most likely won't anyway."
After the interview, he walked into Shasta County Sheriff's office to meet police investigators, the Redding Police Department said.
"It was a cold case, unsolved murder. All the detectives that had worked it have long since retired," Captain Eric Wallace told reporters.
Hawkins was arrested after his confession and the Culver siblings were arrested the following day in the nearby Red Bluff, officials said.
All three are in Shasta County Jail; the men on US$1 million ($1.37m) bail each and Shanna Culver was being held without bail.
KRCR held off from airing the interview until Hawkins had turned himself into police.
Reporter Courtney Krieder, who interviewed the alleged killer, described the incredible moment he walked into the station.
"Hawkins came to KRCR and said he wanted to confess to McAlister's death," Krieder wrote in an article published this morning.
"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."
Krieder said the station agreed to interview him "on the condition that we would hold the interview until he turned himself in, and law enforcement could corroborate his confession".
"He was visibly emotional and asked for a soda and a 'smoke' before going on camera," she said.
"Hawkins appeared to be deeply remorseful, at times tearing up, but he refused to go into details about what happened in Shingletown more than two decades ago."
During the interview, Hawkins hung his head and wrung his hands as he described what it had been like to live with such a terrible secret for so long, and why he could not longer live a lie.
"God and Christ and these things that have happened over the course of 25 years have pushed me and pushed me to do the right thing," he said.
"I know the wrong can't be changed but this is the closest I can come to doing the right thing."
Immediately after the interview, KRCR executive news director Jennifer Scarborough called Redding Police Chief Roger Moore and Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko to tell them that Hawkins was headed their way.
Redding police and Bosenko are also in charge of the unsolved bizarre kidnapping of Sherri Papini.
Hawkins told the station he had been "blind" before having found God, and admitted he was seeking redemption for his crime.
"I've been through hell my whole life because of this," he said, choking back tears, adding that he had even tried to contact his victim's family last year.
"I talked to them several times and told them I was going to make it there so I could tell them what happened and I wanted their forgiveness," he said.
"By the time I got there, his father had passed away."
Redding police investigators say they believe the motive was robbery. They say McAlister had recently got some money from a settlement.
They say the trio lured him out to Shingletown under the guise of selling him methamphetamine. Instead, they robbed him, and Hawkins and Curtis Culver stabbed him to death. All three left his body and dumped his car at Costco.
Wallace told CNN he talked to Frankie McAlister's 81-year-old mother after Hawkins' arrest. He had been her only child, and she said the arrests brought her some relief, Wallace said.