Sarah June Douglas’ last night alive began with a trip to an area casino, where she spent the evening with her sister Stephanie and her mother, before they dropped the 26-year-old woman off at the south Sacramento County home she shared with her live-in boyfriend.
Douglas had been having relationship problems with 55-year-old Orville Fleming, a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection known by the nickname “Moe,” and had told her sister about plans to leave him.
As soon as Douglas got home just before midnight on April 30, she knew something was wrong.
“That (SOB) left the gas on,” Douglas said in an angry call to her sister one minute after midnight. “I think he’s trying to kill my birds.”
Then, Stephanie Douglas heard her sister exclaim, “Whoa, you scared me,” and a man’s voice that she later identified as Fleming’s. She heard arguing, then a scream from her sister.
Then the phone went dead.
That scenario, described in documents filed in Sacramento Superior Court, is the opening scene of a drama that captivated the region in the past week and evolved into allegations involving murder, prostitutes, sex tapes and rogue firefighters.
Fleming has been missing since May 1 and is charged with homicide in the death of Douglas, who was found stabbed to death inside her blood-spattered home with a bed sheet tied around her neck, court records show. Authorities believe she was a paid escort who Fleming had met two years ago.
He is the subject of a statewide manhunt, with authorities warning he has access to two pistols, as well as keys he could use to unlock gates to fire trails or Cal Fire facilities throughout California.
Fleming was fired from his $130,000-a-year job Thursday, although his termination was not directly related to the homicide allegations. The battalion chief was “separated” from state employment because he failed to show up for work five days in a row, said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant.
“That means he is determined to be AWOL and is no longer an employee of the state,” Berlant said Thursday. “This has nothing to do with the allegations or the potential criminal charges. It is simply because he has not shown up for work for five consecutive work days. Like any employee who does not show up, they are separated from the state.”
Fleming earned $130,000 in 2013, according to data from the state Controller’s Office. Of that amount, nearly $40,000 was in overtime pay.
Fleming ditched his pickup truck the night of the killing and fled from southern Sacramento County in an unknown vehicle, authorities have said. The Sheriff’s Department put out a wanted flier for Fleming on Wednesday.
“We have instructed all of our facilities to post the flier so that if there are any sightings they can be reported to the sheriff,” said Berlant. “It is another way to cooperate and assist the sheriff.”
The gruesome scene deputies found when they arrived at Douglas’ Fox River Way home shortly before 9 a.m. is described in detail in an arrest warrant request filed in court.
Deputies were responding to a 911 call by a neighbor, who reported that two women were out in front of the home screaming that someone was dead inside.
Stephanie Douglas and another woman had gone to check on Sarah Douglas that morning after being unable to reach her by cellphone, and deputies entering the home found blood on the laundry room floor, a bloody towel in a bathroom sink, the rear slider open and the blinds still drawn.
In the master bedroom, deputies found Douglas face down on the floor, a white sheet tied around her neck. Blood spattered the bed and walls.
Fleming was nowhere to be found.
“Stephanie stated that she was aware that Sarah and Mo were having relationship issues, and that Sarah intended to leave Fleming,” a sheriff’s deputy wrote in the arrest warrant affidavit.
Whether that contributed to Douglas’ slaying is still unclear.
Fleming’s wife, Meagan Fleming, has told KXTV in Sacramento that she had seen evidence that Fleming and other firefighters had sex with prostitutes and that Douglas had confronted Meagan Fleming seeking payment for her husband’s debts for such services. She also claimed she had seen video of Douglas having sex with firefighters on firetrucks.
Meagan Fleming declined to comment when reached Thursday, saying she no longer wanted to discuss the matter publicly. Her husband filed for divorce Oct. 24, according to Fresno Superior Court records, but the case has not been finalized. Less than a month later, Meagan Fleming sought a temporary restraining order against Douglas asking for “orders to stop harassment,” court records show. A judge denied her petition one day later, on Nov. 22.
Berlant, the Cal Fire spokesman, said the allegations concerning videotaped sex and firefighters are serious but unsubstantiated. He pledged that Cal Fire would take action if the allegations are proved to be true.
Douglas’ middle name has alternately been reported as “June” and “Jane” by officials, and authorities confirmed Thursday that her name is Sarah June Douglas.
But she used a different name online on an escort site called MyRedbook.com. That site listed her rates at $300 an hour and indicated she was available for meetings with clients from Sacramento to Bakersfield.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Lisa Bowman said she could not discuss what evidence may have been found at the Fox River home and whether it included sex tapes or still photographs.
Call The Bee’s Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.