STOCKTON, Calif. (CBS13) — The psychiatric patient who escaped from a state hospital in Hawaii, boarded a plane to California, and ended up in Stockton, spoke out from his jail cell today.
Randall Saito escaped from a state hospital in Hawaii and says his past in Stockton and Lodi drew him to where he was later arrested.
Saito led police on a four-day manhunt after he left a Hawaii state hospital without staff noticing until after he touched down in San Jose on Sunday night.
Saito was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1979 murder of 29-year-old Sandra Yamashiro. Prosecutors say he picked her at random, shot her in the face with a pellet gun, then stabbed her to death.
He has been denied release on multiple occasions, but documents uncovered since his escape show his confinement wasn’t on strict terms and that he was only required to check in with staff on occasion due to his good behavior.
“I’ve been at the Hawaiian state hospital for 37 years consecutively,” he said during a jailhouse interview on Thursday, a day after his recapture. “During the time, my behavior has been nothing less than exemplary. I have never assaulted a staff or patient, even though I’ve been assaulted by staff and patients.”
Saito went to school in Lodi and says he used to live in Stockton. After he touched down in San Jose, he found a cab driver willing to take him all the way to Stockton where some of his family members still live.
Saito claims he escaped because he no longer felt safe at the state hospital. When he was in Stockton, he bought items at a Walmart, stayed at a motel near Ernie’s General Store and had plans for another cab ride, this time to Reno.
Only this time, alert residents and deputies were ready for him.
“It was a desperate measure for me; I never attempted any kind of brash undertaking such as this before,” he said.
Where the money or planning for his grand escape came from is still a mystery.
“Well, that’s the million-dollar question,” he said.
Saito denies he’s a sex offender but says he regrets his past and the killing of Sandra Yamashiro.
“The woman I murdered in 1979, God bless her soul,” he said. “I have regretted it every day since the day it happened, and I pray for her every day.”
Saito is due in court on Friday.