A man who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in Hawaii, flew to Maui and then hopped on a plane to San Jose was captured by sheriff's deputies in Stockton Wednesday morning thanks to a tip from an alert cab driver, according to sheriff's officials.
The arrest puts an end to a days-long search for Randall Saito, who was found not guilty of a 1979 murder by reason of insanity and has been described as fitting the profile of a serial killer.
Saito walked out of Hawaii State Hospital on Sunday, climbed into a waiting taxi, and boarded a charter flight before the state Health Department even had a chance to alert authorities about his absence.
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Honolulu police later received a tip that Saito was on his way to a brother's home in Stockton, said Honolulu CrimeStoppers Sgt. Chris Kim. That tip was forwarded to authorities in Stockton, Kim said.
Saito was arrested in Stockton around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday by San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies, according to the sheriff's office. Saito was detained by three deputies outside of a gas station.
The sheriff's department noted that a tip from an alert taxi driver led to the arrest.
Honolulu police said the 59-year-old Saito flew to Maui, and from there boarded a plane to San Jose. He arrived at Mineta San Jose International Airport around 7:30 p.m. local time Sunday.
It wasn't immediately known how he was able to charter a plane. Police wouldn't provide details about his flight to California.
It took hospital personnel eight hours to notify local law enforcement once they realized Saito was missing.
Late Tuesday night, the Hawaii Attorney General's office charged Saito with felony escape and issued a $500,000 bench warrant for his arrest.
Saito, described by sources to Hawaii News Now as a "violent psychopath," was committed to the hospital in 1981 after being acquitted by reason of insanity of the murder of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro. The woman, selected at random, was shot in the face with a pellet gun and repeatedly stabbed. Her body was found in her car at a Honolulu shopping mall.
Defense attorneys sought to have Saito released in 2000. But Jeff Albert, a deputy city prosecutor, objected, saying Saito “fills all the criteria of a classic serial killer.”
In 1993, a court denied Saito’s request for conditional release, saying he continued to suffer from sexual sadism and necrophilia.
The state Department of Health operates the hospital, which houses over 300 patients in Kaneohe. The department said it’s investigating the escape.