Fugitive fire chief wanted for murder may be in Mexico, Canada

Reuters News
Posted: May 16, 2014 2:42 PM

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Thwarted so far in efforts to find a fugitive former fire chief suspected of stabbing his girlfriend to death, California homicide detectives may seek help from law enforcement agencies in Mexico and Canada, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

Orville "Moe" Fleming, 55, has been missing since May 1, after his 26-year-old girlfriend, Sarah Douglas, was found dead in the home they shared in California's capital city of Sacramento.

"We want to find him, but there's nothing out there," said Sacramento sheriff's department spokeswoman Sharon Chow. Investigators believe that Fleming is alive, she said, but either hiding on his own or being concealed with the help of friends.

On Friday, Chow said a likely next step, currently under discussion by investigators, would be to distribute his photograph in Mexico and Canada.

"As more time goes on, we've got to start expanding it to that just in case," she said.

The hunt for Fleming, believed to be armed, comes just over a year after former Los Angeles policeman Christopher Dorner fled into the Southern California mountains after a murderous rampage targeting police officers and their families. That case ended in a fiery standoff that left Dorner dead.

Seeking tips from people who may have seen Fleming, investigators last week said the former battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), might be hiding in California's massive mountain ranges or the picturesque Yosemite Valley.

Meanwhile, Chow said, investigators are talking to several people who worked as escorts in the Sacramento area who are believed to have known Fleming.

The former battalion chief was "very active" on the escort website "My Redbook," and detectives are trying to piece together information on Fleming's lifestyle and history, she said.

Last week, the department said on its Facebook page that someone from the escort service might have helped Fleming evade capture.

After Douglas' death, the fire department vehicle that Fleming used was found abandoned in a Sacramento suburb, the department said.

Fleming has deep knowledge of the California's backcountry owing to his training and experience fighting wildfires in the state's mountains and wilderness areas, and may also be hiding somewhere inside the state, Chow said. He also has keys to access fire roads.

Fleming was fired from his job last week after not showing up for work beginning on April 30, department spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein)