- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A helicopter clattered over transient camps and rail yards in the expanding search for an insane killer as investigators tried to determine whether he planned his getaway from a field trip organized by a mental hospital.

Phillip Arnold Paul left little clothing in his room at Eastern State Hospital and carried a backpack and $50 from a Social Security check when he vanished Thursday at the Spokane County International Fair, sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

The field trip to the fair, which included 30 other patients, is an annual event that Paul easily could have anticipated, Sgt. Reagan told the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper.

Because of the extra clothing Paul had, it’s reasonable to assume he has changed his appearance, Sgt. Reagan said.

Paul, 47, was committed after he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and acquitted by reason of insanity in the slaying of an elderly woman in Sunnyside, Wash., in 1987. He soaked her body in gasoline to throw off search dogs.

Federal, state and local law enforcement agents were engaged in the search Sunday as officials ruled out one potential hiding place after another. Members of an inmate recovery team from the state Department of Corrections and some deputies were sent home, Sgt. Reagan said late Saturday.

“We’re running out of places to look for him locally,” Sgt. Reagan said. “My sense is we’ll find him somewhere outside Spokane County.”

Authorities said earlier that Paul likely was headed for his family home in Sunnyside, about 180 road miles south-southwest of Spokane.

In 1991 he walked away from custody during a day trip in nearby Medical Lake, where Eastern State is located, and was captured about 15 miles away. He subsequently attacked a sheriff’s deputy in the jail booking area, knocking him unconscious and separating his shoulder, and was convicted of first-degree escape and second-degree assault.

Reagan said investigators have learned that Paul had several contacts in the area after living outside the hospital complex periodically, including stays at the Carlyle Care Center in downtown Spokane.

He also posted words and nine songs, including one entitled “Rock N Roll in the Mental Institution” by Philly Willy and the Hillbillies on his page on the social networking Web site MySpace. There was no indication on the Web site of when or where the songs were recorded.

“24/7 you been laying in bed,” he sings. “You be damn lucky to get those voices out of your head.”

Other lyrics concerned people outside the mental institution who don’t care, lack of mail and missing the feel of grass under his feet, the sight of the stars at night and the touch of a woman.

In a brief biography, or autobiography written in the third person, he referred to the killing as “a four-second mistake” and added, “psychotic symptoms were noted over the incident that landed Phil in the psychiatric ward of the Washington State Mental Institution.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide