Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas blasted state hospital officials Friday for “quietly” moving mass killer Edward Charles Allaway from Patton State Hospital to what he said was a less-secure facility in advance of a release.
Patricia Almazan, the daughter of one of seven murder victims, said she recently heard a news report on a radio station while switching channels that a murderer had been transferred out of Patton to Napa State Hospital.
Concerned that it might be Allaway, who gunned down his victims 40 years ago on the campus of Cal State Fullerton, she called to find out of it was her father’s killer.
“So I called Patton and found out from a social worker that he had been moved,” Almazan said.
A spokesman for the Department of State Hospitals issued a statement about the handling of patients without confirming or denying Allaway’s transfer.
“The Department of State Hospitals cannot provide specific information on whether an individual is or isn’t a patient in a state hospital program,” said spokesman Ralph Montano. “Doing so would violate both federal and state privacy laws.”
Montano, however, said the state is not required to notify local officials about a patient’s movements.
“Patients may be transferred during the normal course of business at the hospital and it is often done to best meet the medical needs of the patient,” he said.
Montano emphasized that the Napa campus “includes a secure treatment area, which is surrounded by fencing and topped with razor wire.”
He denied officials were planning Allaway’s release, adding that it would not be possible without a court order.
There’s nothing Rackauckas can do to stop the transfer, but his office can oppose Allaway’s request for release, which would prompt a trial.
In 2001, Allaway lost his bid for release following a two-month trial.
Jurors deadlocked on whether Allaway was insane, so a judge declared in 1977 he was criminally insane. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.
On July 12, 1976, the school janitor went on his rampage, getting off 23 rounds with a rifle as he cut down his victims, wounding two in addition to the seven he killed.
He believed his estranged wife was being pushed into performing in pornographic movies.
Prosecutors object to his release because he hasn’t shown a full consciousness of guilt and he has a tendency to be a “lone wolf,” so he would likely lack necessary support upon his freedom, said Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner, who opposed Allaways release in 2001’s trial.
Allaway would not only be let go into an entirely different world and culture from 1976, he would also be the target of hostility and would have difficulty coping, making another incident more likely, Wagner said.
Alamazan said she worries that his release would establish precedence that would allow other mass killers to go free.
Paul Paulsen, brother of victim Deborah Paulsen, said, “For 40 years we’ve had to ensure the loss of our loved ones to this vicious calculated killer, and here we are again today in the latest chapter.”
Paulsen said he “wholeheartedly” opposes Allaway’s release.
“This is a reprehensible action and a threat to me personally and on our local communities,” Paulsen said. “God help us if he is ever released in any way shape or form.”
“If he gets released, no one will be safe,” she said.
Rackauckas said Allaway has a “10- to 15-minute walk” to freedom on the Napa campus.
“It’s a real concern that Allaway will be given ground privileges, which would allow him to leave hospital grounds that do not have walls and are only partially fenced in,” Rackauckas said.
The county’s top prosecutor added that Allaway “had a history of mental illness, workplace violence, marital discord, racism and a preoccupation with weapons even before he moved to California in 1972. Once in California, he continued his violent ways, including numerous fistfights with co-workers and beating and raping his estranged wife.”
Allaway has petitioned for release five times, triggering a trial each time, Rackauckas said.
“Each trial caused a firestorm of controversy in Orange County, reasonably alarming citizens of the possibility of a mass murderer returning to their streets,” Rackauckas said. “Over and over, hospital staff have testified on Allaway’s behalf, saying that he is cured and is no longer dangerous.”
While state officials have no legal obligation to notify victims or prosecutors of a patient’s transfer, they do have a “moral obligation,” Wagner said.
Rackauckas has written letters to Gov. Jerry Brown and Patton Hospital administrators opposing Allaway’s release.
— City News Service