HONOLULU — A man who escaped from a Hawaii psychiatric hospital and flew to California was caught with two high-quality fake IDs, two cellphones and more than $6,000 in cash, according to court documents.
Randall Saito’s escape from Hawaii State Hospital in November “was not a matter of happenstance or a crime of opportunity, but required detailed planning and considerable financial resources,” Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Kory Young said in a motion to keep him behind bars.
If Saito posts bail now set at $500,000, he will be returned to Hawaii State Hospital, where he was committed after being acquitted by reason of insanity for a woman’s 1979 killing.
Officials are still investigating how he was able to escape, including where he got the money and other supplies. If he returned to the hospital, it would be impossible to keep him away from potential witnesses, hospital Administrator William May wrote in a letter to the court.
Details of the escape
Saito plotted his escape with a banned cellphone, prosecutors said in documents.
After walking out of the hospital, he called a taxi that took him to the airport, where he caught a chartered flight to Maui. He used an alias to arrange the flight and paid $1,445 cash for it, the motion said. He then took a commercial flight to San Jose, California.
When he was arrested in nearby Stockton three days after his escape, he had more than $6,000 in cash and fake Washington state and Illinois driver’s licenses bearing his photos with different names, prosecutors said. The fake licenses contained convincing-looking holograms that are difficult to reproduce.
“We do not know if defendant Saito has a cache of other fake IDs at his disposal,” Young wrote. “We do not know if there are other secret sources of money he can tap into.”
Hospital surveillance footage shows Saito taping door locks for a lounge and retrieving a garbage bag from a combination-locked cabinet on the morning of his escape, according to a detective’s affidavit.
He took clothes out of the bag and changed. He threw the bag with his old clothes in a dumpster and then opened a combination lock to get out of the hospital, the affidavit said. It’s not known how he knew the combination.
And in the taxi, he had a backpack that he didn’t have when he left the hospital grounds.
“Whether he was provided with the backpack by another individual, or if he had secreted the backpack somewhere off of the hospital grounds is unknown,” the prosecutor’s motion said.
Hospital examines case
Hospital officials are considering GPS ankle monitors in the wake of Saito’s escape, May, the hospital administrator, told lawmakers Friday.
It took the hospital at least eight hours to notify law enforcement that Saito was missing. There needs to be a way to get information about escaped patients to airport security officials, state Sen. Will Espero said.
“If a killer is on the loose, although he was not guilty due to insanity, this is the type of individual that we want his face plastered as far out as possible, to as many venues, people with eyes, who might be in a position to stop him or her,” he said.
Saito spoke to The Associated Press in a jail near Stockton, California, in November before telling a judge he didn’t want to go back to Hawaii.
He refused to say if anyone helped him escape, where he got the money to travel or how he acquired what he called “a pretty good” fake ID. He insisted that he only escaped to show that he should be free.
Hawaii Public Defender Jack Tonaki, whose office is representing Saito on the escape charge, said it’s too early to comment on the allegations.
U.S. marshals brought Saito back to Hawaii earlier this week. A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.