(CBS SF) — An escaped killer from a psychiatric hospital in Hawaii was recaptured in Northern California Wednesday.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said Randall Toshio Saito was arrested in Stockton at around 10:30 Wednesday morning.
The arrest was made in the area of Highway 99 and Waterloo Road in Stockton and was the result of a tip received from an alert taxi cab driver, the sheriff’s office said.
According to Yellow Cab in Stockton, Saito had called a cab from a hotel in Stockton Tuesday and the driver had an odd exchange with him. Wednesday, Saito called for another Yellow Cab and the driver from the previous day opted not to pick him up based on the previous day’s interaction, the company said, so a second driver was sent.
The second driver told his manager he believed that the fare might be the suspect authorities were looking for, and called the sheriff’s office, the company said.
“We had a very alert taxi driver who gave us a tip that he believed he had the escapee in his vehicle,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Konecny.
The cab company manager said when the driver pulled in for gas on Waterloo Road near Highway 99, deputies hiding in the back moved in to arrest Saito.
“He said when he got surrounded by the police, the only thing the guy in the back said was ‘They got me!'”said manager Joe Martin.
Honolulu CrimeStoppers Sgt. Chris Kim said he had received a tip that Saito was headed to a brother’s house in Stockton. Honolulu police then forwarded that information to authorities in Stockton.
Saito left Hawaii State Hospital Sunday, boarded a plane to Maui and later took another flight to San Jose.
According to Hawaii News Now, Saito had booked a charter flight to Maui online under a different name.
Saito was committed to the hospital in 1981 after being acquitted by reason of insanity of the 1979 murder of Sandra Yamashiro. She had been shot and repeatedly stabbed before her body was found in her car at a Honolulu shopping mall.
Defense attorneys sought to have Saito released in 2000. But Jeff Albert, a deputy city prosecutor, objected, calling Saito “a psychopathic predator whose mental condition continues to represent a serious danger to the community.”
At a news conference in Honolulu Wednesday, Hawaii Department of Health Director Virginia Pressler says an internal investigation indicates employees inadvertently or intentionally neglected proper notification of supervisors and proper supervision of Saito.
Pressler said the escape was a major breakdown of staff protocols and the employees involved would be placed on unpaid leave for 30 days while authorities investigated how Saito escaped.
It took the hospital at least eight hours to notify law enforcement that he was missing. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said authorities and the public should have been notified much sooner. Ige has directed the attorney general to investigate.
Court records show Saito also had relationships with three hospital staff members over the years.
A 2010 evaluation of Saito by a psychiatrist said he had six significant relationships since he was committed to the Hawaii State Hospital in 1981.
The assessment by Dr. Gene Altman said three of the relationships were reportedly with women in the community, including Saito’s first and second wives.
The evaluation said the other three were reportedly with hospital staff members.
Altman said Saito can be personable and has good social skills.
Currently, seven hospital staff members are on paid leave as the state investigates exactly how Saito escaped.
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