Escaped Insane Killer Captured After Four-Day Manhunt

Cops had feared what would happen when Phillip Paul's medication wore off.

ByABC News
September 20, 2009, 4:44 PM

Sept. 20, 2009— -- Police in Washington state captured a schizophrenic killer who had escaped during an outing from the mental hospital where he had been committed to a state fair.

Phillip Allen Paul, 47, was on medication to control the schizophrenia that authorities said led him to brutally murder an elderly woman when "voices in his head" told him to 22 years ago.

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 escaped.

Police said Paul surrendered without putting up any 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 had 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.

It also raised controversy over how someone like Paul could have been allowed to go on an outing to the Spokane County Interstate Fair, crowded with unsuspecting families, and over how the hospital handled the escape once officials there learned that Paul had slipped away from the chaperones.

"He's not somebody that has committed a crime out of passion," Spokane County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Reagan said. "He's committed a crime because the voices in his head tell him to commit the crime. And we don't know when those voices are going to start talking to him again."

Paul escaped Thursday when he and other inmates from the Eastern State Hospital in Spokane were taken on an outing to the Spokane County Interstate Fair. Police said earlier today they believed Paul had been planning the escape, because he took a backpack and extra money with him on the outing.

Since the field trip to the fair is an annual event, Paul could easily have prepared to go on the lam, Reagan said.

"It could very well be he's been thinking about this for a while," Reagan said. "We don't know what he had in that backpack. It could've been a change of clothes, it could've been food and supplies, we don't know."

When investigators searched Paul's room, they found he had left few of his clothes behind, Reagan said.

Paul was acquitted by reason of insanity in the beating and murder of an elderly Sunnyside, Wash., woman in 1987, and he was committed to Eastern State, diagnosed as schizophrenic. After killing the woman, he soaked her body in gasoline to make it harder for search dogs to find her and then buried her in her flower garden.