ELK GROVE (CBS13/AP) — A firefighter turned murder suspect is on the loose, possibly armed with a number of weapons, after police say he killed his fiancee.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Orville “Mo” Flemming is accused of brutally murdering his 26-year-old girlfriend, Sarah Jane Douglas.
Fleming, 55, is a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection battalion chief who has taught for several years at the department’s fire academy in Ione, about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento. His official state vehicle, a CalFire pickup truck, was found unoccupied Thursday night in Elk Grove.
Fleming has not been found, despite an extensive air and ground search.
Kerra LaBarre can’t believe the man she served coffee to is the primary suspect.
“Very disturbed knowing that someone who came in every day is a killer,” she said.
She says Flemming was always very nice to her, never complaining much at all.
“Would come in, order a coffee, get a breakfast sandwich and go back to work,” she said. “He always seemed positive and in a good mood and happy.”
He spent most of his time in Amador County, because he worked at a Cal Fire training facility on the outskirts of Ione.
The agency is trying to grapple with what happened at the couple’s Elk Grove home. Her family says they found Sarah Douglas brutally murdered and left face down on the floor.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman said Fleming is thought to have ties to the neighborhood where the truck was left, as well as the Fresno area. In a statement, she said he is known to own firearms and is believed to be armed.
Sheriff’s investigators determined that Douglas was stabbed and that the two might have been fighting just after midnight on Thursday, Bowman said. The coroner’s office has not yet performed an autopsy on the woman.
There was a large amount of blood at the scene, most of which is believed to be from the victim. But Bowman said Fleming also might have been injured.
“Obviously, this is a very tragic situation for everybody involved, the family as well as those he worked with,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the state fire agency.
Fleming was a Madera city firefighter for three years before joining the state as a fire engineer when the city contracted with CalFire to provide fire protection in 1993, Berlant said. He was promoted to fire captain in 2001 and to battalion chief in 2012.
Berlant previously said incorrectly that Fleming started with CalFire as a seasonal firefighter. Fleming was assigned to the fire academy about a decade ago, one of about a dozen battalion chiefs and fire captains who teach classes in fighting wildland and structure fires and dealing with hazardous materials.
The department is providing employees with counseling and other support. Armed officers who work for the fire agency, most commonly as arson investigators, were providing security at the fenced and gated Ione academy, in case Fleming showed up.