A "psychopathic predator" who sauntered out of a state mental hospital several days ago was arrested Wednesday in California after hopping on a chartered flight and then boarding a commercial jet to Northern California, authorities said.
Randall Toshio Saito, 59, was taken into custody in Stockton by San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputies after a tip from an "alert cab driver," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
He has resided at the Hawaii State Hospital for nearly 40 years. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the psychiatric facility on Oahu following the 1979 murder of Sandra Yamashiro.
Prosecutors said Saito shot the woman in the face with a pellet gun and then stabbed her to death.
Her body was found stuffed in the trunk of her car. Authorities said he chose the woman at random in the state's largest shopping mall.
“He is a psychopathic predator whose mental condition continues to represent a serious danger to the community,” deputy prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Albert said at one of several hearings held in 2000 to determine whether Saito should be freed, according to CBS affiliate KPIX-TV.
Albert added that Saito “fills all the criteria of a classic serial killer,” and authorities said he was a sadist who was sexually addicted to corpses, the station reported.
Nonetheless, he was popular with staff at the mental hospital and had sex with at least three employees in the 1990s, according to documents obtained by Hawaii News Now.
He left the hospital empty-handed at about 9 a.m. Sunday, authorities said, and walked to a nearby park. Somewhere along the way he accumulated a backpack filled with cash, clothes and a cell phone, police said.
He called a taxi at the park and was taken to a chartered plane leaving for Maui, according to authorities.
A camera in the cab showed him talking on the phone and looking through the bag, as if for the first time, police said. He paid for the taxi and the short flight with cash.
In Maui, he boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Jose with a pre-paid ticked, police said. It took state hospital staff nine hours to inform police that Saito had escaped, investigators said.
Investigators said they are trying to determine how Saito obtained cash, the mobile device and new clothes after leaving the mental hospital.
Authorities said they received a tip that Saito might be headed to his brother's home in Stockton.
He is currently being held on a $500,000 bond and is awaiting extradition to Hawaii, according to the San Joaquin Sheriff's Office.