STOCKTON — San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputies arrested Randall Toshio Saito, an escapee from the Hawaii State Hospital, at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 15.
Saito, 59, was acquitted of the 1979 murder of Sandra Yamashiro based on mental disease or disorder and committed to the state hospital, located in Kaneohe on Oahu.
The arrest, made in the area of Highway 99 and Waterloo Road in Stockton, was made as a result of a tip from an alert taxi driver.
According to the Honolulu Police Department, Saito, 59, escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital on Nov. 12 at approximately 9 a.m. Somehow he was able to take a plane to Maui, and flew to San Jose from there.
Many have questioned the delay in reporting Saito missing. Hospital staff called 911 shortly after 7:30 p.m., two hours after he landed in San Jose via Hawaiian Airlines.
Surveillance video from the cab that Saito hailed at Kaneohe Community Park show him with a backpack stuffed with supplies, including a cell phone and a charger. Video from the hospital shows that he did not have the backpack when he escaped.
According to Hawaii News Now, sources say Saito’s ticket to California was purchased online and he paid for his cab ride and his charter flight in cash, using an assumed name.
Honolulu police received a tip that Saito was on his way to a brother’s home in Stockton and forwarded that information to local authorities.
On Nov. 14, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin announced that his office had charged Saito with felony escape and issued a bench warrant for his arrest in the amount of $500,000. Law enforcement in all 50 states may enforce an arrest warrant issued by the state of Hawaii.
“This is a dangerous individual,” Chin said at the time. “We need him off the sreets. The state is in close contact with law enforcement to make this happen.”
Because of Saito’s potential for violence, the public was warned not to approach or try to apprehend him.
Saito is charged with escape in the second degree, a Class C felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He was not charged with escape in the first degree, which requires use of force.
The Hawaii State Hospital, which houses over 300 patients, said in a statement that it “takes all escapes seriously and has safeguards in place to minimize the chances of these from occurring. A thorough investigation is now under way to gather more details to identify areas for improvement.
“To comply with federal and state privacy laws, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) may not disclose information on Hawaii State Hospital patients.
“We are also aware of the need to support the safety of the public and per protocol, any escape is reported to law enforcement to expedite searches for patients, including the patient who escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital on Sunday.”
Hawaii State Hospital Administrator William May told the local CBS affiliate, KGMB-TV, that appropriate steps would be taken if Saito had help from someone inside the facility. An anonymous staffer told KGMB that Saito was known for his manipulative behavior.
Yamashiro, whose body was found in her car at a shopping mall, was shot and repeatedly stabbed. Authorities said she was selected at random.
Saito was diagnosed with sexual sadism and necrophilia. In 1993, a court denied his request for conditional release, saying that his mental condition was unchanged.
In 2000, defense attorneys again sought to have Saito released, but Jeff Albert, a deputy city prosecutor, objected, saying that Saito “fills all the criteria of a classic serial killer.”
“Because he committed a murder, no matter how long ago it was, he still has ability or inherent ability to do another … very heinous and violent offense,” Wayne Tashima, a Honolulu prosecutor, told KGMB.