Local, state and federal authorities were still looking Saturday for Phillip A. Paul, a missing Eastern State Hospital patient committed in 1987 for killing an elderly Yakima-area woman.
Paul walked away from a group attending the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Thursday, triggering a manhunt that has attracted national publicity.
An inmate recovery team from the Washington Department of Corrections joined the search Saturday morning, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. A helicopter swept railroad yards and transient camps.
But as officers worked through a list of possible hiding places, Reagan said, the recovery-team members and some deputies participating in the search were sent home.
“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 Paul may have planned his escape.
Paul left little clothing behind in his hospital room and was carrying a backpack during the field trip, an annual event Paul could easily have anticipated.
He had $50 in his pocket from a Social Security check.
“It’s reasonable to assume he has changed his appearance” given the extra clothing Paul was carrying, Reagan said.
Although he said Paul has probably left the county, Reagan added that deputies are discovering that Paul had several Spokane contacts. He has periodically lived off the hospital campus, including stays at The Carlyle Care Center in downtown Spokane. The department was receiving six to 12 calls an hour reporting sightings Saturday, but few were timely enough to be of use, Reagan said.
Paul, in words and songs posted on the Internet, reveals a man aware of his schizophrenia and wary of the medications he takes to control it, but proclaims himself better for the experience.
In crudely mixed recordings that veer from rockabilly to heavy metal, he calls Eastern the “Nut Hut,” a “Castle on the Hill,” and a “palace of the pill.”
“24/7 you been laying in bed,” he sings in “Rock N Roll in the Mental Institution.”
“You be damn lucky to get those voices out of your head.”
Other song lyrics say people on the outside do not care, that he gets no letters, and that he misses the feel of grass under his feet, seeing the stars at night and the touch of a woman.
There is nothing on the My-Space page to indicate when or where Philly Willy and the Hillbillies recorded nine songs with titles such as “The Dare Song” and “Break These Chains.”
The site includes a photograph that Reagan, of the Sheriff’s Department, said most resembles how Paul looked Thursday when he disappeared.
In a brief, sometimes confused biography on the site, Paul refers to the killing that led to his commitment as “A four second mistake.”
He writes, “Psychotic symptoms were noted over the incident that landed Phil in the psychiatric ward of the Washington State Mental Institution.”
He adds, “It is next to impossible for others to see the depth of what he’s really like outside of song.”