Prior to the highly publicized Nov. 12 escape of Hawaii State Hospital patient Randall Saito, acquitted of murder by reason of insanity, another patient under Department of Health custody disappeared, and he remains on the run.
Gregory LaBar, a 30-year-old suspected felon, escaped Sept. 28, nearly two months ago, from Kahi Mohala, a mental health facility with which the Health Department contracts for 40 beds, department spokeswoman Janice Okubo confirmed.
Diana LaBar, who lives in California, contacted the Honolulu Star-Advertiser a day before Saito’s escape, saying she was worried about her son because he was a danger to others and to himself and appeared to be trying to return to the mainland.
According to her, little is being done to publicize his disappearance and to warn the public, and she wonders what law enforcement is doing to find him.
LaBar said her son is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and she said he has threatened her and his sister with a knife on separate occasions, hears voices, acts aggressively and has been incarcerated for theft.
LaBar said she hadn’t heard from her son since Oct. 18, which she says is unusual.
“The Police Department told me people were always running away from Kahi Mohala,” she said.
In the wake of Saito’s escape, Gov. David Ige and other state officials cleaned house at the State Hospital. Seven employees were placed on leave without pay for 30 days pending the investigation, unescorted on-campus and off-campus privileges were halted, and all levels of patient privilege and visitation policies are being reviewed.
“I suggest he (the governor) do the same at Kahi Mohala and have the open-door policy changed to no open door,” LaBar said.
Gregory LaBar was charged with two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening and petty misdemeanor shoplifting for allegedly stealing a knife and other items at a Kauai store on April 23. The Kauai Circuit Court found him unfit to stand trial after a panel of mental health experts examined him.
The court ordered him to be held at the State Hospital, and he was admitted Aug. 11. He was transferred Sept. 7 to Kahi Mohala, which is also a secure facility. The court again found him unfit Sept. 25, and he returned to Kahi Mohala.
Neither Kahi Mohala nor the Health Department have said how he escaped at 7:45 p.m. Sept. 28.
Kahi Mohala contacted law enforcement and the Health Department, and a news alert was issued that night by the Department of Public Safety at the Health Department’s request. Both the Sheriffs Division and Honolulu police were notified of the escape, and reports were filed.
Okubo said it is up to law enforcement to take further action.
“After Gregory LaBar left treatment, violating his court order, law enforcement took over efforts to bring him back into custody,” she said in a written statement.
She said a bench warrant issued June 7 was independent of his being remanded to the Health Department’s custody and remains in effect.
The Sheriff Division’s Fugitive Unit has alerted airport authorities to be on the lookout in case he tries to leave the state, Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said Sunday. The Fugitive Unit “has been actively pursuing all leads on Gregory LaBar in an effort to apprehend and return him to DOH custody.”
His attorney on Kauai was unaware of the escape and said he is due back in court Jan. 9 for another review to see whether he is mentally fit to stand trial.
Diana LaBar said her son told her he was judicially released and could leave if he wanted to. He receives Social Security payments, recently got a mainland driver’s license and recently asked her to send him $300 to a Haleiwa post office box.
He appears to have made plans to return to the mainland, and his mother said when she realized what he might be doing, she stopped payment on the MoneyGram she sent him.
She said she last spoke to him Oct. 18.
He was held at Oahu Community Correctional Center for three months while awaiting trial in the Kauai theft case. That is where he became suicidal, his mother said. LaBar said her son should have remained in the State Hospital, where he was happier. She said at Kahi Mohala he was being given medication, but his dosage was lowered.
LaBar suspects her son was sleeping on the streets under a gray tarp near the Keeaumoku Street Walmart. She said he frequents Ala Moana Center, uses a Haleiwa post office box and had a friend named Jeannie who lives in Pearl City. He met her in treatment, and she was released a week before he fled, LaBar said.
LaBar said she’s written to the state health director and the Kahi Mohala administrator and spoken to an investigator with the Sheriff Division and others.
“I’m the voice of my son,” she said. “I’m trying to save my son’s life.”
Gregory LaBar is described as 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 177 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
He was last seen wearing a gray long-sleeved T-shirt, black pants and slippers.
Anyone who sees him is asked to call 911 or the state Sheriff Division at 586-1352.