Killer on well-planned escape: 'I didn't come here to hunt women'

Hawaii hospital escapee makes first appearance in California court
Published: Nov. 16, 2017 at 6:30 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2017 at 11:11 PM HST
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(Image: San Joaquin Sheriff's Office)
(Image: San Joaquin Sheriff's Office)

STOCKTON, Calif. (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a chilling jailhouse interview Thursday, the psychopathic State Hospital escapee who spurred a nationwide manhunt before being caught in California says he prays for the woman he killed every day and didn't feel safe at the Kaneohe psychiatric facility where he's been held for nearly four decades.

Randall Saito, 59, told CBS affiliate KOVR he's "never attempted any kind of brash undertaking before."

"There's a reason I came — because it's not safe in Hawaii State Hospital," Saito said. "I've been at Hawaii State Hospital for 37 years. During that time, my behavior has been nothing less than exemplary. I've never assaulted staff or patients even though I've been assaulted by staff and patients."

Saito escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital Sunday morning, called a cab to pick him up at Kaneohe Community Park, flew to Maui on a chartered flight and caught a Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Jose, Calif.

He arrived in California on Sunday night, two hours before the State Hospital informed police that he was missing.

On Wednesday morning, he was captured in Stockton, Calif. thanks to a tip from a vigilant taxi driver.

Saito was acquitted by reason of insanity for the gruesome 1979 killing of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro at Ala Moana Center. She was a stranger to him.

He was committed to the State Hospital in 1981 after experts diagnosed him with necrophilia, or sexual attraction to corpses, and sexual sadism. And his repeated attempts to have unescorted leave from the hospital were rejected by the courts.

Saito told the KOVR reporter that it "wasn't easy" to escape from the Hawaii State Hospital.

He also said, "The woman I murdered in 1979, God bless her soul. I have regretted it every day since the day it happened. And I pray for her every day."

Meanwhile, Saito also spoke to CBS affiliate KPIX in San Francisco, saying he is "not a sex offender. I'm not a psychopath."

"I didn't come here to hunt women down or hurt people," Saito said. "The only reason why I did it was because ... I was desperate to have some kind of unequivocal proof that I could be in the community without messing up. So I could go back to Hawaii and say, 'You know what? You guys said all this crap about me. Now what do you go to say?'"

He added, addressing his psychiatric diagnosis, "The necrophilia is my fault. I used that as an excuse to get into the State Hospital from the get-go in 1979."

Officials say Saito will be held in California until he's extradited back to Hawaii, where he's expected to be sent (at least initially) to OCCC.

State Attorney General Doug Chin has said it's apparent Saito had help to escape, but many unanswered questions remain.

Meanwhile, state officials have pledged a major overhaul at the Hawaii State Hospital. Seven employees have been put on leave without pay — and others could follow — as authorities investigate why it took 10 hours for personnel to alert authorities of the psychopathic killer's escape.

Dr. Virginia Pressler, Health Department director, said a preliminary investigation "revealed that staff may have inadvertently or purposefully neglected proper notification of supervisors with appropriate supervision of the patients."

"It was a major breakdown in our Hawaii State Hospital protocols, procedures and guidelines. In this case, there was fault on our side and we're doing what we can to address the issues that allowed that to happen.

Gov. David Ige added, "His escape should never have happened. Authorities should have been notified much, much sooner."

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