Ex-California Fire Chief Arrested In
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[May 17, 2014]
By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A
former California state fire chief suspected of murdering his live-in
girlfriend and then evading capture for two weeks was arrested on
Friday, Sacramento County authorities said.
Investigators had been searching for Orville "Moe" Fleming, 55,
since May 1, when his 26-year-old girlfriend, Sarah Douglas, was
found stabbed to death at the home they shared in Sacramento.
A detective from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spotted
Fleming just as he was boarding a bus in South Sacramento.
Detectives took him into custody at about 12:30 Pacific Time, after
he verified his own identity and told the detectives he planned to
cooperate with them, said Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones.
Shortly after his arrest, Fleming gave a full statement to
investigators, in which he confessed to stabbing Douglas in their
home, Jones said.
"This was a domestic violence homicide," said chief investigator
Brian Meux. "Despite all the other parts of this case, his
employment and the manhunt, it really does just boil down to that."
Fleming was fired last week as a battalion chief for the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for failing to show up
since the day before the murder.
Investigators said he told them he had been hiding in a heavily
vegetated area near where he was arrested. They said he may have
left his hiding space for a brief period to find food and clothing.
The incident came just over a year after former Los Angeles
policeman Christopher Dorner fled into the Southern California
mountains after a murderous rampage targeting other officers and
their families. That case ended with Dorner being killed in a
Investigators last week said they thought the former battalion chief
for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
(CalFire) might be hiding in California's massive mountain ranges or
the picturesque Yosemite Valley.
"It is a scenario where he was basically hidden in plain sight,"
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Meanwhile, investigators had spoken with several people who worked
as escorts in the Sacramento area and were believed to have known
Fleming, said Sergeant Lisa Bowman, spokeswoman for the Sacramento
The former battalion chief was "very active" on the escort website
"My Redbook," and detectives were trying to piece together
information on his lifestyle and history, she said.
Last week, the department said someone from the escort service may
have helped Fleming evade capture, but on Friday investigators said
they were confident he had not reached out to anyone during his
two-weeks in hiding.
Investigators had feared the former fire chief's familiarity with
the California back country would have allowed him to hide in the
mountains and wilderness areas, Bowman said.
Fleming also had the means to access fire roads and was originally
believed to be armed, but investigators said Friday that he had been
unarmed and hadn't traveled far from his abandoned car.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Chaussee; Editing by Edith Honan
and Ken Wills)
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