Episode 4:
State of Michigan
Efren Paredes Jr.


Time Served: 31 Years
Status: Currently Incarcerated

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Abuse of Power:
Unethical Persecution of a Minor

(Photo / Facebook – Free.Efren)

“I was sent to an adult facility. I was the youngest person at the facility at the time. It was terrifying.” –Efren Paredes Jr.

On a late night in March of 1989, a grocery store called Vineland Foods in St. Joseph, Michigan was robbed, and its manager Rick Tetzlaff was shot and killed as a result. One of the last known people to see Tetzlaff alive was 15-year-old high school student Efren Paredes Jr., who worked as a bagger at Vineland Foods part-time. Efren’s mother witnessed Tetzlaff drop her son off at home after his shift, where she says he stayed for the rest of the night. Yet, one week later, Efren and three other high school boys were arrested in connection with the robbery and murder. All three of the boys confessed to having a role in the crime, but Efren would be named the ringleader, the only boy that claimed innocence.

Soon after the Tetzlaff murder, the Central Park Five case hit the news, and generalized Hispanic-American and African-American boys as savages and used inflammatory language to describe their actions, further aggravating the already explosive and racially-charged media campaign surrounding Efren. Efren went to trial with only circumstantial evidence against him and the eyewitness identification of his co-defendant who claimed police threatened him to name Efren as the culprit. Efren was found guilty and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after a court psychologist found Efren to be irreparably corrupt. He has spent the past 31 years in jail, trying to prove his innocence.

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Efren’s resentencing hearing is scheduled to start October 6th. You can sign his online petition for a “time-served” sentence, which would allow Efren’s release from prison, here:


Date of crime: 3/8/89

Crime: Murder and Robbery

Sentence: Life without parole

Interview Subjects:

  • Efren Paredes Jr.
  • Jake Sussman, Managing Director of The Justice Collaborative