A man described as a “classic serial killer” has escaped a mental hospital in Hawaii prompting a widespread search by police and the FBI.
Randall Saito, who was acquitted of a 1979 murder by reason of insanity, flew to California on Sunday, the Maui Police Department said.
Saito, 59, was committed to the state psychiatric hospital outside Honolulu in 1981, two years after he was acquitted in the killing of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro. In 1993, a court denied Saito’s request for conditional release, saying he continued to suffer from sexual sadism and necrophilia, NBC Bay Area reports.
Ms Yamashiro was found dead in her car, shot in the face with a pellet gun and repeatedly stabbed. Prosecutors said she was chosen at random.
NBC Bay Area reports Saito walked out of the hospital, climbed into a taxi and boarded a charter flight. This was before the state Health Department even had a chance to alert authorities about his absence.
It took hospital personnel eight hours to notify police Saito was missing.
Honolulu police said Saito flew to Maui before boarding a plane to San Jose.
It remains unknown if he’s still in the area, but officials say some of his family members live there. United States Marshals and FBI agents are searching for him.
Honolulu deputy state prosecutor Jeff Albert, who objected to calls for Saito to be released in 2000, said the 59-year-old “fills all the criteria of a classic serial killer”.
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"He is a psychopathic predator whose mental condition continues to represent a serious danger to the community," Mr Albert told the Honolulu Advertiser after finding out Saito had been granted unescorted leave from the hospital in 2002.
Prosecutor Wayne Tashima described Saito as a “very dangerous individual” and said there was a concern he could commit the same “very heinous and violent offence again”.
A staffer from the hospital told Hawaii News Now that he believes Saito may have had outside help and would have been planning an escape.
"He's a smart guy. He's not impulsive,” he said
“It's not an impulsive act.”
He also believes no one will ever find Saito.