What were they thinking?

Spokane's "criminally insane escapee" raises big questions.
Spokane's "criminally insane escapee" raises big questions.

What's wrong with this headline: "Insane killer recaptured after escape during field trip"?

What's wrong is that an "insane killer" was on a "field trip" in the first place, visiting the Spokane County Interstate Fair no less. That psycho killers might be found at county fairs is no surprise — just look at the guys who run some of those rides. And surely a steady diet of deep-fried Twinkies could induce madness. But this guy, Philip Arnold Paul, was on an official outing and managed to slip away from his Eastern State Hospital guards. Apparently it was easy: he just ran away. Police weren't notified for two hours. Thus he won the media title of "criminally insane escapee."

The story becomes even more incredible when you read that this isn't even the first time the guy has escaped. Back in 1991, we walked away from another outing in Medical Lake and subsequently attacked and injured a sheriff's deputy.

According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review Paul was found hiding in the woods outside of Goldendale with a scythe in his backpack. He was found innocent by reason of insanity for the murder of a woman in Sunnyside in 1987 who he believed to be a witch. He's been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic and a judge recently had determined he was a "threat to public safety." The hospital head, however, described him as a "model patient," thus he was included in the outing, despite reports that he wasn't always taking his meds and admitted to fantasies about killing kids.

If this guy wasn't a risk, who is?


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.