Former Fire Chief Accused Of Murder Was Hiding In Plain Sight, Arrested Without Incident

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — The manhunt for an former Cal Fire battalion chief accused of murdering his fiancee has ended with Orville Fleming being found hiding in plain sight.

Fleming was spotted not far from where he was last seen in Elk Grove 15 days ago.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputies say the 55-year-old has admitted to killing his fiancee Sarah Douglas. He will face a judge on Tuesday.

Douglas

The former battalion chief was taken into custody at a bus stop at Cosumnes River College after a deputy spotted him getting onto a Regional Transit bus.

Fleming, we’re told, didn’t make a scene, because he knew the jig was up.

His disappearance sparked a statewide search, but it turns out Fleming hadn’t gone far at all.

“It was clear when we met with him, that he’d been out in the elements for some time,” said Det. Brian Meux.

The fugitive was so close the entire time that Fleming told deputies he could actually hear helicopters searching for him.

“He did indicate he’d been basically living under a bush,” Meux said.

RAW VIDEO: Orville Fleming Arrest Press Conference

Fleming told detectives he hid in dense vegetation not far from the Elk Grove neighborhood where he abandoned his truck, and not far from the home where investigators say the 55-year-old murdered Douglas.

It’s an area that deputies searched many times over.

“It is a scenario where he was basically hidden in plain sight,” Meux said.

Deputies say Fleming would venture out at night for food and water. But despite interacting with members of the public in the same area he allegedly committed the crime, not a single person recognized him.

People living in that Elk Grove neighborhood where he was hiding were more than a little surprised to learn a suspected killed was hanging out close to them.

Orville Fleming

“Two weeks—very terrifying to know that,” said neighbor Cynthia Ballard. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, you gotta be kidding me.’”

Aside from shaving his mustache, Fleming made no attempt to disguise himself. Deputies say he bought clothes at a thrift store. Because he paid with cash, there was no paper trail.

Orville Fleming mug

It was a stunning turn, considering investigators entertained the idea that the murder fugitive may have fled as far as Mexico, or even Canada.

“We were looking very very closely at possibly that somebody had given him a ride out of the area,” Meux said.

The thinking was Fleming could have had help from someone on MyRedbook.com, the escort website where he first met Sarah Douglas. Though much has been made of her escort past, deputies believe the pair had a genuine romantic relationship.

Sarah Douglas

As for Fleming, deputies say it’s now clear he had no help and no plan. He was on the own until the end. And in the end, he made no denial. Fleming spoke with detectives for hours, confessing to killing the woman he once asked to marry him.

For the last several days, Orville’s estranged wife Meagan Fleming had been staying in the Sacramento area. On Friday, she decided to return to her home in Fresno, and on the way she got the call from detectives about his arrest.

Orville’s brother-in-law Todd Cameron is thankful the murder suspect was found alive.

“We are relieved that he was found OK and he’s alive, just for his kids mostly,” he said. “Everybody is just in a little bit of shock and just waiting to hear what happened, because nobody knows where he’s been or what he’s been going through.”

Orville Fleming red

Cameron says Meagan Fleming has been staying in their Roseville home for the last few days in fear of her safety.

“She left this morning about 9 a.m. and she called about an hour later saying she just got a call they found him,” he said.

News of Fleming’s arrest is a relief to his family, who feared he could have harmed himself or others.

“Our hearts go out to their family, the girl that got hurt, and to Meagan and her kids,” Cameron said. “This is their ex-husband, father, so its very tough to deal with.”

Now the family is looking for answers on how Fleming could have allegedly committed such a gruesome crime.

“He was never a violent person, so this is all kind of new,” he said. “It’s sad. It’s very sad. It’s terrible.”

Cameron says Meagan had trouble sleeping at night knowing that Fleming was still on the loose. Tonight, she can rest a little easier.

Wanted poster for Orville Fleming. (Credit: Sacramento County Sheriff's Department)

Wanted poster for Orville Fleming. (Credit: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department)

 

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