California Fire Chief Charged With Stabbing Girlfriend To Death
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[May 21, 2014]
By Jennifer Chaussee
SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A
former California fire chief, who evaded capture for two weeks after his
live-in girlfriend was found stabbed to death in the home they shared,
was charged with murder on Tuesday.
Orville "Moe" Fleming, 55, who police say has confessed to
stabbing Sarah Douglas, 26, was charged with one count of murder at
a hearing in Sacramento Superior Court.
"This was a domestic violence homicide," Sacramento County sheriff's
investigator Brian Meux told the court. "Despite all the other parts
of this case, his employment and the manhunt, it really does just
boil down to that."
Before his arrest on Friday, investigators had been searching
desperately for Fleming, missing since police discovered Douglas'
body in the Sacramento home on May 1. Believing him armed and
dangerous, the sheriff's department asked hikers and residents of
the state's massive mountain ranges and the picturesque Yosemite
Valley to watch for someone matching his description.
In the end, just as detectives were set to expand their quest to
Mexico and Canada, Fleming was spotted climbing down from a bus that
he had boarded to go purchase food, officials said. He had been
hiding in the bushes not far from where his state fire vehicle was
found days earlier.
At Fleming's first court appearance on Tuesday, Douglas's family
looked on grimly as Fleming was charged.
"I wanted to tackle him," Trudi Werly, Douglas's mother, told
Werly sat with her sister, Trina Werly, and other family members as
Fleming appeared in court to hear the charge levied against him,
clad in an orange prison jumpsuit.
He will be represented by a
public defender in the case, and is scheduled to appear again in
court on May 27.
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Trina Werly said she hopes Fleming pleads guilty to spare her family
the trauma of a trial.
"It's very hard to see him in court" Trudi said. "We just want
justice for Sarah."
Earlier this week, investigators said it appeared that Fleming had
tried to kill himself sometime prior to his capture but they
withheld details about how he might have attempted to take his own
life, or when.
After his arrest, Fleming confessed to stabbing Douglas in their
home, said Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones.
Fleming was fired as a battalion chief for the California Department
of Forestry and Fire Protection for failing to come to work since
the day before Douglas's body was found.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Ken Wills)
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