Patricia Almazan can hardly believe it’s been 40 years since her father was gunned down along with six others by a crazed killer on the campus of Cal State Fullerton.

“It’s very shocking that 40 years have passed because it just seems like yesterday, really,” Almazan said of the July 12, 1976, massacre that took the life of her father, Frank Teplansky, as well as Stephen L. Becker, Seth Fessenden, Paul Herzberg, Bruce Jacobsen, Donald Karges, and Deborah Paulsen.

Edward Charles Allaway also wounded Maynard Hoffman and Donald Karen on that day. Having been found guilty by reason of insanity he is still committed to Patton State Hospital.

A candlelight vigil and memorial expected to be attended by members of the victim’s families will be held tonight at the Cal State Fullerton Memorial Grove.

“I know it sounds silly — people ask me why don’t you have closure — but you can’t put a time limit on grief,” Almazan told City News Service. “For some it’s short, but for others it’s a lifelong pain of remembering a loved one’s murder.”

Part of what has fueled Almazan’s grief has been her work to make sure Allaway stays locked up, she said. Because he’s committed to a state mental hospital he has the legal right to petition for release annually. His most recent bid for freedom was in July 2009, but Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas raised a fuss and state officials backed off.

In 2001, there was a two-month trial on Allaway’s release. Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner represented prosecutors in that trial, in which Allaway was found unfit for release.

Allaway will have to prove based on the preponderance of evidence that he is no longer mentally ill and is safe to be released, Wagner said.

In 2001, Wagner argued that Allaway was unfit for release because he had been mentally ill for most of his adult life and that “he really didn’t have any insight into his illness and the anger of the paranoia that makes him not trust others.”

Jurors deadlocked on whether Allaway was insane, so a judge declared in 1977 he was criminally insane. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Allway got off 23 rounds with a rifle when he gunned down his victims. He believed his estranged wife was being pushed into performing in pornographic movies, Wagner said.

Allaway also tends to be a “lone wolf” and wouldn’t have the necessary support while out of custody who could alert officials if he stopped taking his medication or showed symptoms of his disease again, Wagner said. If Allaway erupted again there’s a good chance he would inflict “catastrophic damage,” Wagner said.

“And as it is for everyone as they get older it’s harder to cope, and you’re talking about someone with a major mental illness who doesn’t have any support of family,” Wagner said. “And he hasn’t been out in society for 40 years and society is going to be hostile to him. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Almazan said her father has been on her mind much more of late since the deadly mass killings in Dallas and Orlando.

“You have to have that on your mind,” she said. “You think, ‘Are there any solutions and so forth. So, yes, I think about it every time I see a mass shooting and it’s very disturbing and very painful.”

Almazan met with her father’s killer in 2006.

“I was told he was dying of cancer,” she said. “There’s nothing I’d like to hear from him except the truth of what happened… It was a very scary time for me because he was just two feet from me across the table. When I had my questions like why did he specifically shoot my father he claimed not to remember anything. He couldn’t even remember my father’s name. It seemed very contrived and after five minutes I knew he would not do anything.”

A few others connected in some way to the massacre took their own lives in the aftermath, Almazan said.

“He killed a lot more people than even he realizes,” she said.

Teplansky was a graphic artist, Korean war veteran, writer, journalist, and pianist, his daughter said.

“He once illustrated a book for Kareem Abdul Jabbar,” Almazan said.

“He was a Marine for 20 years and he fought in the Korean war, only to come back and be shot in cold blood by an ex-Marine,” she said.

Almazan, who was 30 at the time her father was killed, said she still misses him terribly every day.

Almazan recalled her father’s sense of humor.

“He used to do tricks for my three brothers and myself,” she said. “He would pull out a quarter and make the eagle cry, or an egg from behind our ear or the missing-first-finger trick,” she said with a laugh. “That one scared the hell out of us. I don’t mind telling you he was a really fun person and so, so talented.”

—City News Service

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