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article image'Insane killer' at large in Washington state, fled field trip

By Kay Mathews     Sep 19, 2009 in Crime
Mental hospital patient Phillip Arnold Paul escaped on Thursday while on a field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair. The "manhunt continues," says a Spokane County Sheriff spokesman.
On Thursday, Phillip Arnold Paul, 47, was on a field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair in Spokane, Wash. organized by the mental hospital where he was committed. According to the AP, Paul “walked away” from the fair and has not been seen since.
Paul was committed to Eastern State Hospital after he was acquitted by reason of insanity for the murder of an elderly woman in 1987. After soaking her body in gasoline to prevent search dogs from finding it, Paul buried her in her flower garden.
Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County sheriff, told the AP, “the manhunt continues. We truly believe he is headed for Sunnyside. His parents live there.” Sunnyside is located approximately 150 miles from Spokane and Paul is known to keep in telephone contact with his parents.
Paul was one of 30 mental hospital patients allowed to go on the field trip even though a Yakima County judge ruled two weeks ago that he remained a “threat to the public because of his aggressive behavior and his decreased awareness of his psychosis.”
This is the second time that Paul has escaped. The first escape took place in 1991 on a day trip to a lake. Paul was later captured, and attacked a sheriff’s deputy at the jail booking area resulting in conviction for second-degree assault and first-degree escape.
Authorities are using a police helicopter to search for Paul, and they are checking railroads and transient camps. Paul’s “medication should keep him stable for 14 days.”
Dr. Rob Henry, director of forensic services at Eastern State, told the AP:
Patients must be cleared by a treatment team before they can go on trips to stores, parks, and other sites. They wear street clothing and staff members are required to keep each patient within eyesight at all times.
Paul was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and a red windbreaker jacket when he escaped.
The Washington Department of Social and Health Services “ordered an immediate end to trips like the one taken Thursday and launched an investigation into the practice.”
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