‘I’m not a psychopath, okay?’ Saito claims desperation, assaults led to escape

Local News

Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito says he was desperate.

The 59-year-old spoke to FOX affiliate KTXL while in custody at the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

Saito was arrested at around 8:30 a.m. HST Wednesday, after nearly three days on the run. His cab driver told a witness they were on their way to Reno.Related Coverage: State hospital escapee arrested in California; officials admit ‘major breakdown’ in protocol

“Why were you heading to Reno?” KTXL asked.

“I don’t know. I looked at a map, I guess. I don’t know,” he said.

Authorities say Saito left the hospital at around 9 a.m. Sunday. He used a cell phone to call a cab that took him to a charter plane off Lagoon Drive.

From there, he flew to Kahului, then boarded a flight for San Jose.

Police say he landed at around 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time Sunday, three hours before the public was even notified he was missing.

“Where did you find the money to get on the plane?” KTXL asked. “That’s the million dollar question, but I can’t say,” Saito replied.Related Coverage: Police confirm Hawaii State Hospital escapee flew to Maui, then to San Jose

Saito has been a patient at Hawaii State Hospital since 1981. Over the years, he filed numerous motions requesting unescorted off-grounds passes, all of which were denied.

“The only reason why I became desperate enough to do this this time is because the hospital had pretty much blatantly, (it was) obvious that they have no intent of releasing me even after 37 years of exemplary behavior,” Saito told KTXL.

Saito says he intended to be on the run for a month, or at least a couple of weeks, to prove he could be out in the public without hurting anyone.

“The only reason why I did it was because I was desperate to have some kind of existential proof, unequivocal proof that I could be in the community without messing up,” he said.

Saito also says the hospital wasn’t safe, alleging abuse at the hands of fellow patients and staff.

Response from Hawaii State Hospital

“The Hawaii State Hospital provides inpatient psychiatric services for court-ordered individuals within a safe and therapeutic environment. The hospital recently earned national re-accreditation by the Joint Commission. As part of the extensive and detailed requirements to renew accreditation, the hospital must maintain a high standard of patient safety and quality of care. All credible allegations of abuse at the hospital are investigated thoroughly by an independent agency. If there was any neglect, mistreatment, or abuse at the hospital, then corrective actions are instituted as required.”

Related Coverage: Questions surround Hawaii State Hospital following high-profile escape

“Something is really wrong at Hawaii State Hospital,” he said. “During that time, my behavior had been nothing less than exemplary. I have never assaulted a staff or patient, though I’ve been assaulted by staff and patients.”

Saito was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity for the death of Sandra Yamashiro, who was shot and stabbed in her parked car at Ala Moana Center. He says he was under the influence of drugs at the time.

“The woman I murdered in 1979, God bless her soul. I have regretted it every day since the day it happened,” Saito said. “The truth is, I did what I did. I’m culpable. I’m very sorry, but I can’t change it.”Related Coverage: Escapee married former hospital worker, allegedly threatened to ‘blow away the staff’

If Saito had been convicted of second-degree murder in 1981 instead of being acquitted by reason of insanity, there’s a good chance he would have already been released from prison on parole by now.

But according to court records, two years ago, doctors said Saito “continues to be superficial in his relationships with others and manipulative.”

Saito insists he isn’t, and has never been, crazy.

“I’m not a sex offender. I’m not a psychopath, okay?” he said. “I have never been on any psychotropic meds, ever, in 37 years. I have never harbored weapons or drugs or been caught taking drugs.

“Necrophilia is my fault,” he added. “I used that as an excuse to get into the state hospital from the get-go in 1979.”

“If you were lying then, then how do we know you’re not lying now?” KTXL asked.

“As I said, well, if we look at that statement pragmatically, if I was lying then, then obviously I’m not lying now,” Saito replied.

Saito’s interview could lead to more criminal charges against him.

It’s also raising security concerns at the airport, since Saito admitted to using bogus IDs.

Law enforcement officials say using a fake ID to get on a plane to the mainland could lead to federal charges.

It’s raising a red flag with at least one member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation.

“I think everything surrounding how Saito left the hospital, how he was able to travel, was very concerning and something that we’ve got to examine and fix at every level, every step of the way,” said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D, Hawaii.

We checked with the Transportation Security Administration to find out what measures are taken to detect fake IDs, and whether procedures at Kahului Airport, where Saito boarded a flight to California, are under review.

A spokeswoman responded: “I am unable to comment.  This incident remains under investigation.”

State Attorney General Doug Chin says Saito’s on-camera admission could also land him in more trouble.

“My first reaction is that kind of statement is something that can be used against him in the court of law, so if he’s admitting to committing crimes in addition to escape, then we can certainly look at that,” Chin said. “That might be a violation of state, or it might be a violation of federal law.”

Charges can be added once Saito is brought back to Hawaii. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Friday.

If the judge approves, Hawaii law enforcement officials will then bring Saito back. Chin says it’s not clear yet whether Saito will fly on a commercial flight.

“Usually if somebody is brought on to a commercial flight then yes, they are under detention of more than one law enforcement official and they are cuffed,” Chin said. “We just want to make sure that when we do bring him back, we bring him back in a way that is safe for him as well as for everybody else who’s involved.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office says it’s too early to tell what penalties Saito could get for using a fake ID.

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