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Hunt for Cal Fire chief wanted in stabbing death takes daunting turn

Detectives turn to the mountains in search for Cal Fire chief, described as 'avid outdoorsman'
Wanted Cal Fire chief still has access to forest facilities, may be armed, officials say

The hunt for a Cal Fire battalion chief wanted in the stabbing death of his fiancee in Sacramento has turned to the mountains, where authorities face having to track a man whom they described as an "avid outdoorsman" who knows his way around the backcountry.

Authorities have been searching for Orville Fleming, 55, since the body of Sarah Douglas, 26, was reportedly found by her sister with multiple stab wounds May 1 in the couple's home.

Sacramento County sheriff's officials described Fleming as having deep knowledge of the Sierra Nevada and Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as the Yosemite Valley, complicating the statewide search.

"Since we haven't had any credible tips in the urban settings, we've had to consider areas where he has access," said Sacramento County sheriff's spokeswoman Sarah Chow.

It's a daunting task.

"Think about it: You're talking about the majority of the state," Chow said. "We're just hoping that somebody might see something."     

Fleming also has the keys to fire gates, trails and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection facilities throughout the state, not to mention potentially having .45- and .25-caliber pistols. He has since been fired from the agency after having not returned to work for five consecutive days.

His truck, a 2007 Chevrolet with the Cal Fire logo emblazoned on its side, was found May 1 at 8 p.m. by Elk Grove police, but officials believe he fled the area in another vehicle and may have reached out for assistance.

According to authorities, Fleming was a habitual user of MyRedBook, the popular online escort service where he first met his fiancee.

Meanwhile, the family is still haunted by the gruesome killing. 

Stephanie Douglas recalled in an interview with Fox 40 what would be her sister's last phone call. 

"The last scream.... I can't sleep at night," Stephanie Douglas said. “He couldn’t control her; he threw a sheet over her, so she couldn’t fight anymore. He pushed her down and tied it around her neck.

"That's a monster."

According to authorities, Sarah Douglas was strangled, covered in a sheet to incapacitate her, and stabbed more than 20 times with a 9-inch blade.

Investigators determined that Fleming's blood was also found at the scene, confirming that the victim had resisted and inflicted wounds on his hands -- wounds that would have still required bandages one week later. 

Fleming is described as white, with brown hair and brown eyes, authorities said. He is 6 feet 1 and weighs about 190 pounds. He has also been known to significantly alter his appearance by completely shaving his head and mustache.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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