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Manhunt ends: Calif. fire battalion chief accused of murdering girlfriend nabbed

On May 16 via a press release, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office announced and confirmed that Orville “Moe” Fleming, a former California fire battalion chief wanted for the May 1 stabbing murder of his girlfriend, 26-year old Sarah Douglas, is now in custody. Douglas was found dead in the home she shared with Fleming; and authorities have been searching for their suspect ever since. That two week search for Fleming - described by the sheriff’s office as an “avid outdoorsman” - brought authorities through the Sierra Mountains, the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Yosemite Valley.

Authorities searched for their armed and dangerous suspect after police found his girlfriend stabbed dead.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office

Making the manhunt even more difficult, Fleming was known to possess keys to fire gates, trails and Cal-Fire facilities throughout the state. Homicide detectives said that Fleming is alive and well and in custody, and promise more updates soon.

Early on in the search, investigators released several images and wanted posters of Fleming, warning citizens that Fleming was known to change his appearance in the past by shaving his head and mustache.

“Fleming should have cuts to one or both of his hands, injuries he sustained during the murder that should require bandages. Fleming should be considered armed and dangerous; as he is known to have a .45 caliber pistol and a .25 caliber pistol that are unaccounted for.” ~ Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office

ABC News reported today that the 55-year-old fugitive was fired one week after Douglas’ murder, “after failing to show up at work.” In addition to his former duties as battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Fleming was also an instructor with that organization.

Fleming and Douglas lived together in Sacramento for the last two years. Douglas was reportedly an escort who advertised her services on the Internet, which is where the two first met. Fleming is still legally married to a Fresno woman; but that divorce hasn’t been finalized. Meagan Fleming, the suspect’s soon to be ex-wife, filed an order of protection against Douglas last fall. Meagan said Douglas was “harassing her and her adult children in an attempt to get money from Orville Fleming.” That order of protection was denied though, when a judge said that the wife hadn't filled out the proper paperwork.

"We are pleased that this search is over and the Sheriff's Office has apprehended Mr. Fleming," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "We will continue to support the sheriff and the district attorney in any way we can as the judicial process continues."

For more on the story, see the video accompanying this article.

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