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$500K bench warrant issued for escapee

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Honolulu Police released these photos of Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito leaving the hospital Sunday. At left, Saito is seen taking a taxi that picked him up at Kaneohe Community Park.

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William May, State Hospital administrator, left, and Adult Mental Health Division chief Mark Fridovich, Ph.D., answer a few questions about violent patient Randall Saito, at the Dept. of Health, today.

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Randall Saito hearing in circuit court.

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Randall Saito in 2006.

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The Hawaii State Hospital is shown in Kaneohe, Hawaii, today.

Update: 8:22 p.m.

State Attorney General Doug Chin today charged Randall Saito with felony escape. A $500,000 bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Law enforcement in all 50 U.S. states may enforce an arrest warrant issued by the state.

“This is a dangerous individual,” Chin said. “We need him off the streets. The state is in close contact with law enforcement to make this happen.”

Saito has been charged with escape in the second degree, a class C felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.

Escape in the first degree requires use of force and was not charged in this case.

Update: 4:08 p.m.

Citing patient privacy laws and a criminal investigation, Hawaii State Hospital officials today declined to offer any reasons why a killer in their care was able to walk out of their Kaneohe facility.

But State Hospital administrator William May and Adult Mental Heath Division administrator Mark Fridovich did acknowledge a roughly 8-hour gap between the time Randall Saito was supposed to check back in from unsupervised release within the hospital grounds at 11 a.m. and the time the hospital finally notified the state Department of Public Safety after 7 p.m.

The officials said only that an explanation would come out following an investigation of the incident.

“Once we determined there was an escape, we called (Public Safety) immediately,” May told reporters at a news conference at state Department of Health headquarters in Honolulu.

May pledged to fix whatever went wrong. He also said he would be meeting with the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board to brainstorm about how public notifications can get out into the community faster.

Update: 3:51 p.m.

The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have reviewed security footage from San Jose International Airport in connection with the manhunt for missing Hawaii State Hospital patient Randall Saito, airport spokesman Jon Vaden told the Associated Press.

Vaden said police have not advised him of any threats at the airport.

He could not confirm that Saito had flown into San Jose International and referred further questions to the Honolulu Police Department, which did not immediately return calls and an email seeking information about his current whereabouts, despite concerns about public safety.

Police say Saito escaped from the State Hospital on Oahu, where he had been detained since 1981 after being found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. Saito was committed to the hospital in 1981 — two years after killing a woman at Ala Moana Center

Update: 2:59 p.m.

Maui police said detectives from the department’s Criminal Investigation Division confirmed that missing State Hospital patient Randall Saito arrived on the island Sunday and boarded a flight to California later that day. Police said officers reviewed video footage from the Kahului Airport. Saito is still at large after leaving the grounds of the State Hospital on Oahu Sunday morning.

Update: 11:45 a.m.

Maui police say missing State Hospital patient Randall Saito boarded a flight from Maui. They did not release the flight’s destination.

FBI spokesman Arnold Laanui said its violent crimes task force is assisting in the ongoing search for Saito.

Previous coverage:

A manhunt for a missing patient from the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe with a violent past has expanded to Maui, and a city prosecutor warns that the man is still a danger decades after his most notorious deadly assault.

Randall Saito, 59, left the hospital at about 9 a.m. Sunday and failed to return. Police said he boarded a plane to Maui. His whereabouts are unknown at this time.

Saito was acquitted in 1981 of murder by reason of insanity in the slaying of Sandra Yamashiro. In July 1979, Saito fatally shot and stabbed Yamashiro, 29, at the Ala Moana Center parking lot. Experts diagnosed him with sexual sadism and necrophilia and he has been committed to the State Hospital since 1981.

Sgt. Chris Kim of Honolulu CrimeStoppers said police are trying to confirm a tip this morning from a Maui woman who reported a man stopped her while she was driving on Dairy Road in Kahului and asked for a ride. She said the man fit the description of Saito. Kim said the woman did not give him a ride.

It’s unclear when the man approached her. CrimeStoppers tried to obtain additional information but she abruptly hung up, Kim said.

In 2010, a three-member panel of doctors examined Saito to determine whether to grant him unescorted off-grounds privileges to attend programs at the Koolau Clubhouse, which offers rehabilitation services to adults with mental illness. Two of the three doctors on the panel were against unescorted off-grounds privileges.

In a letter to Circuit Judge Richard Perkins, Dr. Gene Altman said Saito “presents a substantial risk of danger to others as a result of his current mental state.”

In boldfaced text, Altman added: “There are no conditions under which he can be safely allowed unescorted off-grounds privileges without danger to others at this time.”

Saito withdrew the motion in 2010, but tried again in 2014. In 2015, Perkins denied Saito’s renewed request for unescorted off-grounds privileges.

According to court records, Saito has been escorted to the Koolau Clubhouse, within 2 miles of the State Hospital, to attend programs. Koolau Clubhouse director Michelle Chow declined to comment.

Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Tashima who opposed Saito’s motion for unescorted off-grounds privileges, described the 1979 murder as “heinous and brutal.”

Because of the nature of Yamashiro’s death, “We still consider (Saito) a high risk of danger even though it’s been 30 years since the crime was committed,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today. There is a propensity for him to commit a similar crime, Tashima added.

“I just hope they find him soon,” he said.

Saito is 6 feet tall with black hair and brown eyes.

The public is urged not to approach him. Anyone with information on Saito’s whereabouts is asked to call 911.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporters Rosemarie Bernardo and Tim Hurley, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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