Day 4 and the search continues for escaped killer - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Day 4 and the search continues for escaped killer

SPOKANE - The search continues for an Eastern State Hospital patient committed for murder who escaped from facility staff during a trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Thursday.   The sheriff's helicopter is also involved in the search for Phillip A. Paul.  Deputies say Paul is mentally unstable and could attack without provocation. 

Authorities say they believe the escape was planned.  Sgt. Dave Reagan of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office says he was told a pair of socks and a pair of underwear were the only clothing items Paul left behind in his room at Eastern State Hospital.  For that reason they assume he took clothing with him.  Reagan says he was also told Paul had been ordering packaged food items while at the hospital.

On Saturday the Spokane County Sheriff's Office contacted media outlets Saturday to let them know the initial photo released of Phillip Paul is not a recent photo.  Sgt. Dave Reagan with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office notified the media that the most recent photos of Paul could be found on his MySpace website.  A link to his MySpace site is provided to the down and to right of this story under the "Also on the web" section..

Eastern State Hospital patient committed for murder who escaped from facility staff during a trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair.  The sheriff's helicopter is also involved in the search for Phillip A. Paul.  Deputies say Paul is mentally unstable and could attack without provocation. 

They say the chances of an attack increase the longer Paul goes without medication.  The Department of Social and Health Services says Paul receives his medication by injection, and it keeps him stable for 14 days.  DSHS says doctors gave Paul his last injection Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Spokane 911 call center reports it has been flooded with calls from people who think they have spotted Paul.  Dispatchers say after the news first broke Thursday afternoon, they took nearly 100 calls per hour.  As of Friday morning, those calls have tapered off to about 10 an hour.  Dispatchers will not confirm if any of those tips have lead to breakthroughs in the search.  KHQ has put in a request for more information on the 911 calls.

Air One, the Sheriff's Department helicopter, flew for three hours on Friday and spotted several people who appeared to match Paul's description.  Ground crews were able to interview those people and confirmed none was Paul.  The helicopter launched again Friday night and Saturday morning to continue the search.

Three schools in the Spokane Public School district were briefly locked down Friday following a reported sighting of Paul.  Spokane County Sheriff's deputies found no evidence that Paul had been near the schools, and those schools then ended the lockdown. 

Police in Lewiston, Idaho pulled over and searched a Greyhound bus Friday after they received reports that Paul may have been on the bus.  Officers confirmed Paul was not on that bus.

On Thursday, hospital staff took a group of patients on an annual field trip to the fair.  Deputies say Paul walked away from the group around 11 a.m. but say Eastern staff waited nearly two hours before notifying authorities of the escape.   

Why were patients allowed to go to the fair?

KHQ has attempted to contact an Eastern State Hospital spokesperson.  No one with the hospital was available for comment, so KHQ contacted the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversees Eastern.  DSHS says hospital patients routinely attend public events, including the fair and Bloomsday, with staff chaperones.  Patients also reportedly make trips to other public places, like malls and parks.  DSHS says the trips allow patients to work on their "life skills."  To determine which patients can go on these trips, hospital staff conduct subjective evaluations based on each patient's treatment programs.  This policy is not endemic to EHS.  To read more, click here.

Later in the afternoon, a business owner near the fairgrounds told deputies that he spotted a man matching Paul's description.  Paul is 47 years old, 5'8'', 207 lbs., with brown hair and a goatee.  He is wearing a red windbreaker and blue shirt and is carrying a backpack.

KHQ's affiliate, KNDO spoke with Paul's older brother Friday morning.  Paul's family believes he is on his way to Sunnyside.  For more on what Tom Paul said about his brother's mental state, click here.

Paul strangled 78-year-old Ruth Mottley of Sunnyside in 1987 and buried her outside her home.  He told investigators that voices in his head lead him to believe the victim was a witch who needed to die.  Paul was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to Eastern State Hospital. Authorities believe Paul may be heading back to Sunnyside, where his parents still live. 

Deputies say Paul is schizophrenic and classified as criminally insane.  He was hospitalized at Eastern following the murder of Ruth Mottley, released for a short time and then re-committed.  Paul also has a criminal background in Spokane County, as well as a history of escape and assault.

According to a 1993 Spokesman-Review article, Paul attacked a deputy while jailed in Spokane County.  Deputy Roger Knight says Paul, a former wrestler, picked him up and threw him to the ground, shattering his shoulder.  Knight had to undergo extensive surgery and says his shoulder will never be the same.

That article also quoted a 1988 deposition in which psychiatrist Frank Hardy testified about Paul.  "He's the only paranoid schizophrenic - I've seen hundreds, maybe thousands of them - that frightened me," said Hardy.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office says it had nothing to do with the organization of the hospital field trip.  Washington State Patrol says it used to be standard procedure that EHS would notify WSP any time hospital patients went on a field trip.  However in March, that policy changed, and WSP says troopers were never notified about Thursday's field trip to the fair.

KHQ also talked to fair organizers.  They say they were not aware that Eastern had planned a field trip with its patients to the fair.  KHQ spoke exclusively with an EHS employee, who told us "EHS is becoming very dangerous."  To read more from that interview, click here.

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