Patient with violent past escapes at fair | Spokesman.com | Sep 18, 2009 The day after a mental hospital patient who brutally killed an elderly woman 22 years ago escaped from a group outing to the Spokane County Interstate Fair, local officials still have some vexing questions. Why did Eastern State Hospital bring a group of 31 patients including at least one with a violent criminal past to the fair without notifying anyone of their presence? And why did it take Eastern staff two hours or more after Phillip A. Paul went missing to notify fair officials or police? Many people from the sheriff to county commissioners to the fair director wanted answers, even as the search for Paul continues today. Deputies believe Paul is heading for the Tri-Cities area and possibly his home town of Sunnyside. I think its wrong its totally wrong, said Jennifer Craig, who was at the fair with her husband and grandchildren Thursday. Youre putting too many kids and old disabled people like me at risk. The head of the state-run mental hospital, Hal Wilson, said Paul had been a fairly model patient, and described Thursdays escape as surprising. State officials have temporarily halted all outings for state patients with criminal histories while they conduct a review. This is very serious, said Susan Dreyfus, secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees Eastern. We need to understand what happened and why. Paul, 47, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to the Medical Lake hospital in 1987, after being found innocent by reason of insanity of strangling and slashing the throat of a 78-year-old woman in Sunnyside, Wash. According to previous reports, Paul said the voices in his head said the woman was a witch.