SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) – In his 16 days on the run, Orville Fleming hardly tried to change his appearance.
His mugshot showed a shaved mustache, the only alteration to Fleming’s face compared to the wanted poster photo released during the manhunt. Somehow, Fleming managed to avoid anyone noticing him in an Elk Grove neighborhood.
Zack Clark, a worker in the shopping center near where Fleming was finally caught, watched as the murder suspect was detained Friday.
“He got off the bus right here and then he was actually sitting there for a couple minutes. Someone noticed him,” Clark said. “The officials came and he was actually going to walk across the street. I guess he noticed the officials coming towards him.”
The former Cal Fire chief had been on the run after his girlfriend, 26-year-old Sarah Douglas, was found murdered in their Elk Grove home on May 1. Investigators said Fleming wasn’t hiding far from the crime scene.
Fleming looks to have spent most of his time hiding in some bushes in an area said to have been thoroughly searched. Investigators believe that he went to a local thrift store to change his clothes – and had even gotten food at a local store. He paid in cash to avoid leaving a trail.
“There’s a bridge down there, he probably got underneath that bridge in the heat, ‘cause you can hear somebody coming from a long ways on that path down there,” Larry Heitzmann said
Heitzmann said he was the one who called police when he noticed Fleming’s Cal Fire truck abandoned on his street after the murder.
“When I went out in the morning it was there, and when I came home in the afternoon it was there … then when I came home from my daughter’s softball game it was still there. So I figured that was really weird,” Heitzmann said.
He said many people in his neighborhood believed Fleming was still around.
“My wife said to me one day, ‘You know, I think he’s out there,’” Heitzmann said.
Fleming was touted as an avid outdoorsman who could be crossing California’s borders. As it turned out, he managed to stay hidden close to home the whole time.
“I don’t think he knew where to go,” Heitzmann said. “He just didn’t have a plan and it got the best of him.”
Fleming denied all media interview requests Saturday.
More on Orville Fleming
- Judge: Cal Fire Can Impose Tougher Penalties Against Firefighters Accused Of Cheating
- Victim’s Family Rips Former Cal Fire Chief During Murder Sentencing
- Orville Fleming Sentenced To 16 Years To Life For Slaying Of Girlfriend
- EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Douglas’ Family Recalls Horror Of Murder, Pain Of Trial
- Former Cal Fire Battallion Chief Found Guilty Of Murdering Fiancée