Police search for mental patient tried for Hawaii murder

AP Photo
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity escaped from the state psychiatric hospital and caught a flight from Maui to an unknown destination, authorities said Tuesday.

Randall Saito was committed to the hospital in 1981 — two years after the woman was killed at a shopping mall.

“He is a very dangerous individual,” said Wayne Tashima, a Honolulu prosecutor who argued in 2015 against Saito receiving passes to leave the hospital grounds without an escort.

Tashima warned people not to approach Saito, saying there’s a concern he could commit the same “very heinous and violent offense” again. Authorities asked anyone with information to call police.

Saito was acquitted by reason of insanity in the killing of Sandra Yamashiro, who was shot and repeatedly stabbed before her body was found in her car at the mall.

Honolulu police said Saito left the hospital near Honolulu on Sunday morning. He flew to Maui a short time later then caught a flight off the island.

FBI spokesman Arnold Laanui said agents were helping police find and apprehend Saito. He referred questions to Honolulu police, who didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.

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.