police Lt. John FitzPatrick said.
"He'd usually wait till later in the night and befriend women who
are inebriated and then offer them a ride home," he said. "In some
cases, he asked women if he could follow them home."
Once Fleming learned where the women lived, he left, FitzPatrick
said, only to return later that night or early in the morning.
Fleming is accused of sexually assaulting two of the women and
stealing some of their possessions, he said.
"It appears that his primary intent was not to take things from
these women," FitzPatrick said. "His intent was to assault them for
In both cases, the women had left their front door open, he said.
"[Fleming] walked through an open door both times," FitzPatrick
said. "It shows how important it is for people to be aware of what
they're doing not just outside of home, but also be conscious of
their surroundings in their homes."
Costa Mesa police detectives, who were already investigating the
case, spotted Fleming's car during the wee hours of Friday near
Pierce Street Annex and followed him to an apartment complex in the
300 block of 17th Place.
"He committed a burglary there, and our officers arrested him as
he came out," FitzPatrick said. "The victim actually woke up and
called police. Even as our investigators were watching him. They
heard the radio call go out."
Fleming tried to run, but officers caught up with him and arrested
him within a short distance, he said.
Fleming is not being accused of rape. But FitzPatrick said that
Fleming's actions falls under the category of sexual assault and
None of the victims were injured, he said. So far, detectives have
learned of three victims -- two of those from Costa Mesa -- and are
trying to see if there were more, FitzPatrick said.
Fleming did not target single women or those who lived alone.
"In fact, one of the women he gave a ride to was with her husband
or boyfriend," FitzPatrick said. "He gave the two of them a ride."
Bars can be as dangerous as they can be fun to hang out in, said
Pamela Weaver, who works at Tony's Place, a Costa Mesa bar.
Weaver keeps an eye on the women, especially the ones who are by
themselves, she said.
"We make sure they get safely to their cars or take a cab," she
Such incidents are almost unheard of in Costa Mesa, especially in
the smaller taverns where "people know people," Weaver said.
"We do get the creepy guys in our bar," she said with a laugh.
"But we play it by ear, use some common sense when we deal with them.
Still, it's scary when you hear about something like this happen
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Costa
Mesa Police Department at (714) 754-5340.
* DEEPA BHARATH covers public safety and courts. She may be
reached at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.