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Originally published Monday, September 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM

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Paul ordered back to mental hospital

Phillip Arnold Paul wanted to be released from a state institution for the criminally insane, and rejection of that request apparently convinced the psychotic killer to escape.

Associated Press Writer

SPOKANE, Wash. —

Phillip Arnold Paul wanted to be released from a state institution for the criminally insane, and rejection of that request apparently convinced the psychotic killer to escape.

Paul, 47, spent three days on the run before he was captured Sunday afternoon near Goldendale. Monday he was returned to Eastern State Hospital near Spokane.

"He's locked down in a very secure area of the hospital under constant supervision," said Susan Dreyfus, head of the state Department of Social and Health Services.

That was not the case Thursday, when Paul disappeared into the crowd at the Spokane County Interstate Fair during a trip with 30 fellow patients. Authorities say it appeared he meticulously planned his escape.

When captured, he was carrying a sleeping bag and a backpack with food, clothing and many of his personal items from Eastern State. Paul, an amateur musician who posts songs on My Space, was also carrying a guitar. Ominously, a hand scythe protruded from the pack when he was captured.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Paul conned a friend into giving him a ride from Spokane to Goldendale, about 180 miles southwest, near the Oregon border. The friend believed Paul had been legally released. When the friend saw news reports of the escape, he contacted authorites and led them to the point where he had dropped off Paul.

The escape was apparently triggered when Paul's request to move from the mental hospital to a residential facility in downtown Spokane was rejected by a judge earlier this month. The judge found that Paul represented "a threat to public safety."

Paul had petitioned and won conditional release to the downtown facility, called The Carlyle, twice in the past, fathering a child during one of his releases. His most recent release ended in January after his mental condition reportedly deteriorated.

Many are wondering why Paul would ever be released from incarceration.

Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he was committed for the 1987 strangling and slashing of 78-year-old Ruth Mottley in Sunnyside. Paul, 25 at the time, snapped Mottley's neck and slashed her throat twice. He then doused her body with gasoline and buried her in her own flower garden. Paul told authorities that voices in his head told him Mottley was a witch who was casting spells on him.

Mottley was a retired educator who had founded the town's historical society and appeared on a list of Washington's 100 most influential women.

Because Paul was found not guilty by reason of insanity, he is not serving a criminal sentence, Dreyfus said. Under state law, the patient can petition for conditional release if they can convince a judge they are mentally healthy.

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Dreyfus said one result of this incident is that the state Legislature may be asked to change the law so that criminals who are judged to be insane would be sent to prison if they are deemed cured.

Eastern patients have taken outings into the community for years, and hospital officials say they can be a useful tool in treatment. All such trips are on hold as the state examines its practices in light of the escape. The state Department of Social and Health Services has promised a security review will be completed within 15 days.

The union representing some hospital workers has said they were surprised Paul was approved to attend the fair because they consider him dangerous.

Knezovich plans to ask the state Legislature to ban field trips for the criminally insane. He also plans to bill the state for helicopter flight time and overtime for about 10 deputies.

Paul previously escaped from the mental hospital in 1990. He was captured nearby, and while being booked into the Spokane County Jail, he attacked and severely injured a deputy.

On his My Space page, Paul talks about his schizophrenia and the medications he takes. Identifying his band as Philly Willy and the Hillbillies, he posted songs that called Eastern State the "nut hut," the "castle on the hill," and a "palace of the pill."

On the site, Paul referred to the killing of Mottley.

"A four second mistake took Phil on a path no one could have imagined. A person lay dead at his feet."

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