OTR Interviews

Exclusive: Slain college student's parents speak out on suspected jihad revenge murder: 'In some way, Brendan saved somebody's life'

Parents of New Jersey college student gunned down in case of suspected jihad revenge reflect on the fateful night they were told, 'It's Brendan. ... He was murdered.' #BrendanTevlin


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A horrible murder on June 25th in northern New Jersey. A 19-year-old college student texts his mother that he is on his way home and he never makes it. Investigators first describing the crime as random, possibly a robbery. But now the question, was it Islamic extremism? You are about to hear from the teen's grief-stricken parents only right here ON THE RECORD.

But first, the investigation into the murder of Brendan Tevlin.


UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Brendan Tevlin was hanging out with some friends. Texted his mother saying he was on his way home, never made it.

More On This...

VAN SUSTEREN: Brendan Tevlin was shot to death in his car.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: A suspect accused of murdering a 19- year-old said he did it as retribution for innocent lives lost in Iraq, Syria. and the rest of the Islamic world.

The court documents show that the killer, Ali Muhammad Brown, was motivated by holy jihad.


VAN SUSTEREN: And now Allison and Michael Tevlin speaking only to ON THE RECORD about the terrible night their son was viciously murdered.


ALLISON TEVLIN, MOTHER OF BRENDAN TEVLIN: I was up. I wasn't panicked. He was, you know, just a kid who would always do the right thing.


ALLISON TEVLIN: So and I wasn't panicking because I thought maybe on his way home he went to his buddy's, Anthony, who lives cattycorner to us. And sometimes he stops there and they hang on his deck. But then, you know, it got later and later. And then I just -- never thought, not in this area that something so horrific could have happened. I really was hoping that maybe he went to his friend's Anthony's and time got away from him or fell asleep, which would have been the first time ever. Like he is just not that irresponsible. But still waited.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were you up waiting as well?

MICHAEL TEVLIN: I was actually away. I was in Maryland with my youngest son Brian, who had a lacrosse showcase. And he was actually in the dormitory. And I got the phone call around 4:30, 5:00. And --


MICHAEL TEVLIN: From Allison. You know, that the police department the prosecutor's department came up and visited her, which is -- I never imagined how she felt. You know, I wasn't there. And it was tough.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, that's the first. So someone came to your door?

ALLISON TEVLIN: My bell rang and my daughter had been up. And my younger 13-year-old doorbell rings at 4:00 in the morning. Everybody hears it. And then I just -- I could actually see the heads threw the wooden door, the glass as I was come down the steps. And I just thought, Bill would never have thought what they told me. You know?

MICHAEL TEVLIN: An accident.

ALLISON TEVLIN: An accident. Yeah. Maybe he is in the hospital. Maybe something -- yeah. It's just --

VAN SUSTEREN: Did they tell you that -- the cold, horrible ugly truth? Or did they try to at least be gentle about it?

ALLISON TEVLIN: They were very nice. I knew one -- the one police officer. I have known him for years. And one of the other guys has known Michael for years, and I just could see on his face when I think I grabbed him and said, oh, no. No. Not Brendan. And he said, yeah, it's Brendan. And he was murdered. Murdered? In New Jersey? I guess -- and then kind of turns into a big blur because they were on their mission to find out what was going on.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's no news a parent should have to give another parent, is it?

MICHAEL TEVLIN: I was sound asleep.


MICHAEL TEVLIN: I thought it was a bad dream. I had to wake up, put my head under water and call her back. I said I have got to call you back. What do you mean, Brendan is dead? You know, as a father, you know, what she was going through, I just -- I wasn't there. So -- it was tough.

ALLISON TEVLIN: That trip home.

MICHAEL TEVLIN: We had a three-hour trip home. It was not easy. But, you know, my -- driving home, just made sure we got home safe, me and my son, Brian. I didn't tell -- I had to take him out of the dormitory at 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning. He is like, Dad, what's going on? I said something happened to Brendan. Dad, what happened, what happened? It was an accident? You know, I couldn't tell him what actually happened because it would have been a really tough ride home. And he wasn't happy I didn't tell him but I'm thankful I didn't because, you know, he ended up going to sleep and was able -- time for me to reflect and think about what happened.


VAN SUSTEREN: And our conversation with Brendan Tevlin's parents continues. Coming up, do they think their son's murder was an act of Islamic extremism? Their answer is next.


VAN SUSTEREN: Our interview with Allison and Michael Tevlin continues.


VAN SUSTEREN: He has made statements saying that he was doing this as revenge for what's going on Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan.

ALLISON TEVLIN, MOTHER OF BRENDAN TEVLIN: I don't -- you know, in our opinion he is a murderer. And in this case, I don't think he acted alone and whether down the road, the law enforcement comes to the conclusion that he is involved to its something bigger. While whether he is false proclaiming this for some other reason is up for -- I figure the truth will come out through, the three...

MICHAEL TEVLIN, FATHER OF BRENDAN TEVLIN: Yeah, I mean, it's a complicated case and it still really working hard on it to you know find the whole truth to this. So...

VAN SUSTEREN: Does it make a difference? I mean, you know -- I mean, I know that to everyone else this is a domestic terrorism, or he just saying that makes a big difference to the community? But does it make a difference as if any impact on either one of you in any way or not?

A. TEVLIN: I don't think it makes that much of a difference at this time. I think he murdered Brendan and he murdered several others and he is an American. He did what he did. And like I said, he didn't act alone, so I don't know if I -- we have all the information or enough information to make that kind of judgment, it's not really not for us to make that judgment.

M. TEVLIN: Do I think he was there to kill somebody? Yes, without a doubt. He definitely find that night was looking to kill can somebody. You know, he changed his clothes, put the fatigues on, he was there to do what he did, and he accomplished. In some ways, I think you know why was it Brendan? You know, if it wasn't Brendan, it was going to be somebody else. So in some way Brendan saved somebody's life because somebody was dying that night and I believe that.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we all come to this very differently. You know, you have the most pain, you are the family, and it's hard not to feel the pain even from the outside, you know, I think everybody does. But the thing that is so hard is like the cruelty of it, you know, just a kid driving a car down the street, 19 years old. You know it's that what's really -- you know, I think that's why we all reach for the motive.

M.TEVLIN: Yeah, and that's understandable. I mean, you know we, I will be honest with you. I really haven't thought too much about the people who did this. I -- you know, we have been trying to just stay positive and think about, you know, how to remember Brendan I think that you know, law enforcement is going to come to a conclusion and they are working very hard on it and I guess that's when we are all going to find out the truth of what happened.


VAN SUSTEREN: And as we saw, we spoke with the Tevlins on the Seton Hall Prep Athletic Field. Where Brendan played lacrosse and Allison and Michael Tevlin told us more about their son's life.


VAN SUSTEREN: His father or his mother? Who is he -- did he take after?


A.TEVLIN: He was...

M.TEVLIN: I think a good mix.

A.TEVLIN: Yeah, probably a good mix. He was...

M.TEVLIN: He got the easy going side from me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that right? Is he easy going?


M.TEVLIN: As smart as from Allison.


A.TEVLIN: OK, I'll take that. He -- yeah, well his definite you know work ethic and knowing that we told him when he asked us to see (ph) Seton Hall Prep. We were thinking, oh, he is the oldest of four might be a stretch, and so we -- when we sent him, we said you know, there is a lot of people who go there who it's no big deal, but for you it's a big deal. And it's a privilege for you to be there, so you have to make the most of it. You have to really do what you want to do and he did, he accomplished everything, everything he wanted to accomplish. And he was, like I said, so proud to get into his colleges and become a Richmond Spider. And I think he...

VAN SUSTEREN: A Richmond, what?

A.TEVLIN: Spider.


A.TEVLIN: Spiders, I know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Richmond Spiders. There you go.

A.TEVLIN: And he was just -- he was just that kid like all four years he was just join such a participant. He really -- he loved everything, he loved being down there and he love working with all the programs he worked with.

M.TEVLIN: Yeah, over there, like 50 yards off of here is the place where Brendan learned the bagpipes. I see family sons of Shelly Club. He learned the bagpipes there at a young age, he was 10 years old from John Brailey and the band he played in, he actually played pipes and drums. Meet up there in practice as well as a bunch of other organizations. But, that's kind of a little bit of vocal point for us as a family and a life. It's you know, the Irish American. It's pretty much Texas County Irish Cultural Center there, but the -- so who's fill and the name is fill after him and in proximity where he practiced and play learned bagpipes would mean so much to us.