Saturday, September 19, 2009

Health News: Insane Killer On the Loose: Questions about Mental Health


A legally insane killer was on the loose in the state of Washington on Saturday, two days after he escaped during a field trip to a county fair, authorities said.

Authorities are combing Washington state for Phillip Paul, who is described as a criminally insane killer.

Phillip Paul was able to elude a massive manhunt in Spokane County, Washington, after escaping on Thursday, a spokesman for the sheriff's department said.

Though Paul had been confined in a mental institution because of a murder confession, he was allowed to be part of a trip to a county fair Thursday.

Paul, 47, escaped from the fair around noon, which launched the massive manhunt and brought criticism from many, including state government officials. Sheriff's officials told CNN affiliate KREM-TV that Paul also escaped briefly in 1991 and assaulted a law enforcement officer.

A review has been launched on the incident along with the policy that allows patients to take trips, said Susan Dreyfus, secretary of the state's Department of Social and Health Services.

Dreyfus said she was concerned about Paul's escape and another recent brief escape by a patient at a different local mental facility.

"These incidents, separate and coincidental, have raised serious questions about the security readiness of our two state psychiatric hospitals," Dreyfus said.

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