By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 34-year-old Mountain View man arrested after a fatal stabbing Tuesday in Eden Roc subdivision escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital on Oahu in late 2009 and had been on the lam since, the state’s adult mental health chief confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Psychologist Dr. Mark Fridovich, who was the hospital’s administrator at the time of the escape, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that Mark True Seal escaped the Kaneohe facility on Dec. 3, 2009, by scaling a fence in an enclosed area.
“The incident was investigated,” he said. “Hawaii State Hospital completed an extensive analysis … and there were a number of environmental, pathological and staff procedure changes to decrease the risk that any patient may leave the hospital without authorization.
“… Though we have made improvements and continue to do so, we are well aware that even single instances may have tragic consequences and we take each instance very seriously.”
Fridovich said that Seal was accompanied by hospital personnel inside the enclosed area and that no assault was involved in his escape from the mental hospital.
Seal is in custody in the Hilo police cellblock on suspicion of second-degree murder. Charges had not been filed as of late Wednesday afternoon. He is suspected of fatally stabbing Rory Thompson Wick of Mountain View, a 32-year-old father of three.
Wick’s sister, Naomi Poni Wick, posted on Rory Wick’s Facebook page that her brother was stabbed to death in his own home. On her own Facebook page she posted: “Rest in peace my brother” and described him as “Such a lover. Never a fighter!!!”
Wick was an artist and had won awards for his work while a student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo several years ago.
Seal was committed to the mental hospital after being acquitted by reason of insanity in April 2002 for the kidnapping and attempted first-degree sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl on Maui.
The last hearing on Seal’s case, according to court records, was on Dec. 10, 2009 — a week after his escape. On that date, Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza denied a request by the state Department of Health to authorize the involuntary administration of medication, ruling that an emergency hearing would be set when Seal was back in the custody of the health department.
Fridovich cited patient confidentiality laws when asked about Seal’s mental state, his medications and how long he had allegedly refused to take them, stating that the court record “is accurate and I can’t go into that any further.”
Esteban said that police “have recovered an instrument at the scene” that they believe may be the weapon used.
Police said Wick, who had suffered multiple stab wounds, was unresponsive when officers and Fire Department medics arrived on-scene. He was pronounced dead at 11:11 p.m. at Hilo Medical Center. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday to determine the exact cause of death.
Asked if the stabbing took place in a residence, Esteban said police have “a general indication where this occurred.”
“We need to get a search warrant and get back on the scene and determine whether this took place in the residence or outside the residence,” Esteban said late Wednesday morning.
Fridovich said he was “very concerned” after Seal’s escape and that the hospital notified Honolulu police immediately, but that communication between the hospital and police ended “a month or two” after Seal’s disappearance. Honolulu police continued to list Seal as wanted on its Crimestoppers web page.
“We had absolutely no knowledge after his escape of any information regarding his whereabouts and no information as to his presence anywhere, not on the Big Island or anywhere,” Fridovich said.
Fridovich provided data indicating that Seal was one of eight patients who left the hospital without authorization in 2009. There have been 11 such “elopements” — as Fridovich called them — since 2010, with only one escape in 2012 and one more so far this year. He said that all of those escapees have been recaptured after brief absences, “in a matter of hours or days.”
He said that with Seal’s arrest, there are no more unauthorized absentees from Hawaii State Hospital.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.