SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The family of a woman murdered by a Cal Fire battalion chief sat down with CBS13 for an exclusive interview.
Sarah Douglas, 26, was found brutally murdered in her home on May 1, 2014. Two weeks later, after an intense manhunt, her fiance Orville Fleming was arrested for her murder.
On Wednesday, Fleming was found guilty of second-degree murder. He will be sentenced on July 31.
While Stephanie Douglas, her mother Trudy and cousin Barbara try to remember Sarah Douglas in happier times, it’s not hard to think about how the 26-year-old’s life came to a violent end.
“She begged for her life,” Trudy said. “She begged, ‘Somebody help me.’”
They say Sarah was preparing to leave Fleming, who was said to be overly controlling.
“She relied on him. She didn’t have nothing, so she relied on him,” Trudy said. “He loved the power.”
On April 30, 2014, as the relationship unraveled, Sarah, Stephanie and Trudy headed out to a casino. As night fell, Fleming wanted Sarah, Stephanie was on the phone with her sister.
“That’s when he walked in and they had a couple of words, and he took the phone and she screamed,” Stephanie said.
She thought he had started a yelling match, but never thought she had just heard the start of a deadly attack.
“Every day, the minutes the timing, the what ifs,” Stephanie said.
After not hearing from Sarah the next morning, Stephanie went to the home, forced her way in and discovered the bloody scene.
“I’m running over to her, and I’m hoping that she’s laying there unconscious or whatever, and I grab her and realize that that wasn’t the deal,” she said.
It would be nearly 14 months of waiting through a manhunt for Fleming, his arrest, and a trial that painted Sarah as an abusive drug addict and alcoholic, despite toxicology results showing she had nothing in her system when she died.
“I wanted to jump up, I wanted to scream, but I knew it wasn’t true,” Trudy said.
What is true, they say, is the couple did meet on an escort website, the now-defunct MyRedbook.com.
“She was a very good girl who made some bad decisions, but we all make bad decisions,” Stephanie said. “That does not paint who she is, she was a really amazing girl.”
Since her own death, the family’s loss has continued. Sarah’s brother, Leroy, took his own life, unable to cope with his sister’s death.
“He gets to see his son and daughter, I don’t get to see my son and daughter; I have to go to their grave,” Trudy said.
Next month, Fleming will be sentenced, facing a minimum of 16 years in prison.
“I’m hoping for life, but it still doesn’t bring her back,” Stephanie said.
The family says Sarah’s death is a reminder to anyone in an abusive relationship to get out before it’s too late.