STOCKTON — Deputies say a man who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in Hawaii has been captured in San Joaquin County.
Randall Saito was arrested Wednesday morning after a taxi driver spotted him and reported the sighting to authorities.
“You know what I am feeling lucky and I was telling my daughter, I said, ‘You know what, I guess it wasn’t my time to go,'” the driver, Kandi Hamman, told FOX40. “My guardian angel was with me, watching over me.”
Hamman says she picked up Saito Tuesday night from the Motel 6 on Waterloo Road and Highway 99.
FOX40 spoke to a manager at the motel, he said the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department spoke to them and confirmed Saito was never a guest at that Motel 6 location.
“I was like, you know, ‘Are you from Stockton?’ He said, ‘No, I’m from Hawaii,’ and I said, ‘Well do you have family here?’ and he said, ‘I have a few but that’s not why I’m here, to visit them. I’m here for a short time,'” Hamman said.
She said, at the time, she had no idea the man in her back seat was committed to a state-run psychiatric hospital in Hawaii after the brutal 1981 murder of Sandra Yamashiro. He was acquitted by reason of insanity.
Saito walked away from the Honolulu hospital Sunday, officials say because hospital staff both inadvertently and purposefully didn’t follow supervision protocols. Saito was able to board a commuter plane to Maui, then flew to San Jose.
“He said, ‘I flew from Hawaii to San Jose and then I caught a cab to Stockton,’” Hamman said.
Hamman told FOX40 she drove Saito to a Walmart because he wanted to buy a cell phone, and he was looking to get out of town.
Saito asked Hamman how far she could drive him, and she told him as far as he wanted — as long as he had money — and gave him her phone number.
Hours later, while watching the news, Saito’s photo caught Hamman’s eye.
“I looked up and I recognized his face and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I had that guy in my cab,'” she said.
Saito called her Wednesday morning to come pick him up, but she refused. Another driver took the job and the company’s general manager called the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
Hamman said she is shaken up, but glad Saito didn’t hurt her.
“He could have killed me,” she said. “It’s crazy.”