Sheriff: Insane killer likely planned escape for weeks

Sheriff: Insane killer likely planned escape for weeks
Phillip Arnold Paul
SPOKANE, Wash. - An insane killer who escaped from a field trip organized by his mental hospital had likely been planning his getaway for some time, local authorities say.

And as the search for Philip Arnold Paul, 47, stretched into its fourth day, authorities said they are running out of places to look for him.

"Based on the investigation that we've conducted, it appears that he may have been planning this for several weeks," Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

Paul escaped Thursday during a trip to the Spokane County Fair. The trip was organized by Eastern State Hospital, where Paul was an inmate.

Knezovich told "Good Morning America" co-anchor Bill Weir that Paul had pre-ordered freeze-dried food before his getaway.

"We have information that he actually contacted people outside of Eastern State Hospital and asked them if they'd order the food for him, and so he could pre-station that food in various locations," Knezovich said in an on-air interview.

Spokane County sheriff's spokesman Dave Reagan also says the 47-year-old Paul left little clothing behind in his hospital room and carried a backpack and $50 on the outing.

Reagan says the trip to the fair, which included 30 other Eastern State Hospital patients, is an annual event that Paul easily could have anticipated.

Knezovich said he was "shocked" when he learned that the group of criminally insane inmates were allowed to roam around the county fair with such loose supervision that one of them escaped.

"I was shocked," he said. "I could not believe that this had happened."

Paul was committed after he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1987 slaying of an elderly woman, whose body he soaked in gasoline to throw off search dogs.

His brother said Paul was a high school and junior college wrestler and a martial artist who should not be approached.

"I'm a tough guy but I wouldn't take him on," Tom Paul said. "I hope he doesn't hurt anybody."

Paul is a white male, 5-foot-8, 220 pounds, with brownish-gray hair, blue eyes, and a goatee. At the time of his escape, Paul was wearing a red windbreaker jacket, with a T-shirt and jeans.

But Reagan said it's reasonable to assume Paul has changed his appearance, because of the extra clothing he had.

This was the second escape for Paul. In 1991, he walked away during a day trip in Medical Lake and was later captured. He attacked a sheriff's deputy in the jail booking area, knocking him unconscious, and was convicted of first-degree escape and second-degree assault.

Knezovich says the deputy was so badly injured in the attack that he required surgery. "He (Paul) has a very violent past," the sheriff said.

A Yakima County judge had ruled two weeks ago that Paul remained a threat to the public because of his aggressive behavior and his decreased awareness of his psychosis, The Spokesman-Review reported Saturday.

Federal, state and local law enforcement agents were engaged in the search for Paul on Sunday as officials ruled out one potential hiding place after another.

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

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.

The sheriff said it's not really clear how long Paul would remain stable on the run without his medications. It was first reported that he would be stable for only two days. Then authorities said he should be stable for 14 days.

But now Knezovich said he's not so sure, adding that there are indications Paul had not been taking his meds properly before his escape.

"We're not quite sure exactly what medications he's on," the sheriff told "Good Morning America." "We haven't been told by Eastern State Hospital as far as that particular item."

"One of the things that really concerns me is the fact that if he was not compliant in taking his medications, what made anybody think that he'd be compliant on a field trip to the Spokane County Fair?" the sheriff added.

Knezovich also said he can't understand why the hospital waited two hours before notifying the Sheriff's Office about Paul's escape.

"I've talked to the secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services, and she is cooperating with us," he said.

"She is looking into this matter, and she's looking into the questions that we need answered, one of those questions being - why was there a two-hour delay before law enforcement was notified that this individual had walked away from that group? A group of 31 individuals and they were all in the same category - they had all been judged criminally insane."

Paul maintained a page on the online social networking Web site MySpace, where he posted words and nine songs, including one entitled "Rock N Roll in the Mental Institution" by Philly Willy and the Hillbillies. 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."