Nurses at that psychiatric hospital that held schizophrenic killer Phillip Allen Paul said they'd warned against the field trip that allowed the murderer to mingle with residents at the state fair before blending into the crowd and escaping, ABC News has learned.
"My members who work directly with Mr. Paul came to me and said he is not stable," said Greg Davis, president of Washington Federation of State Employees Local 782, the union to which the nurses belong.
Paul, 47, was recaptured after a massive four-day manhunt Sunday, coincidentally by the same police officers that captured him after a previous escape attempt in 1991. Paul seemed to have planned the escape for months and was captured carrying a sickle with a 9-inch blade, a backpack and a guitar, police said.
Authorities were in a race against time to capture Paul, whose medication would have worn off in a matter of hours. Some 22 years ago, schizophrenia led him to brutally murder an elderly woman when "voices in his head" told him to, said Spokane County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Word of the nurses' unheeded warning against the field trip came following frustrated statements by police, many of whom are stunned that the psychiatric hospital gave Paul the opportunity to mingle with families and escape at a Washington state fair.
"I can tell you there is an extreme amount of anger throughout the law enforcement community that this event even took place," Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in a press conference.
Hospital officials did not report the criminally insane killer missing for more than two hours after he disappeared. Overnight, the Department of Social and Health Services promised action.
"If indeed disciplinary action up to termination is necessary, I can assure the state of Washington I will make the necessary changes there to make sure this cannot happen again," DSHS secretary Susan Dreyfus said.
Union president Davis said the hospital had been warned about allowing patients such as Paul to go on such outings, saying policy changes at the hospital have become less restrictive about who can go on such field trips.
"Under older policy, a patient [like Paul] would not have been included in that outing," Davis told The Associated Press. "That outing is for the best of the best ... patients with years of compliance and excellent behavior, people who the courts agree are ready to re-enter society."
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office said Paul was captured at around 4:30 p.m. local time in a wooded area near Goldendale, Wash., more than 180 miles from where he'd escaped.
Police said Paul surrendered without putting up a fight, as dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement officers searched the area around Goldendale, and a helicopter hovered overhead.
"It appeared that he was going to voluntarily turn himself in because of the pressure of the ground force we had in the area," Klickitat County Sheriff Rick McComas told The Associated Press. "He chose not to stay hidden any longer.
"He came out of the brush, onto the roadway, as law enforcement officers were going by. His intent was to voluntarily give himself up, because he knew we were going to find him."
His escape triggered an intense manhunt, involving members of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Marshals, Yakima County Sheriff's Department, Department of Corrections officials and FBI agents.