DNA on sandals in search of missing Memphis jogger leads to arrest


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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A man has been charged with kidnapping in the disappearance of a Tennessee woman who was jogging last week when she was accosted and forced into an SUV, police said Sunday.

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Although Eliza Fletcher has not been found, Memphis police say in an affidavit of arrest that they have evidence that leads them to believe she was seriously injured in the kidnapping near campus. from the University of Memphis. Authorities said they have surveillance video of the abduction.

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U.S. Marshals arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, on Saturday after police found her DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Fletcher was last seen, according to the affidavit. Police have also linked the vehicle they believe Fletcher was forced into to a person living at a residence where Abston was staying.

Eliza Fletcher is pictured in a photo shared by the Memphis Police Department Twitter account. Memphis Police Department Photo /Twitter

Abston attempted to flee when U.S. Marshals arrived at this residence but was captured, the affidavit said. Memphis police said early Sunday morning he was charged with particularly aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence. They said the investigation was continuing.

Online court records do not show whether Abston has an attorney who can comment on his behalf. An arraignment has been set for Tuesday.

A second person was also arrested, but apparently for an unrelated offense since police said they did not believe this person was connected to the kidnapping.

Authorities said Fletcher, 34, was jogging around 4 a.m. Friday when a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle. Fletcher was reported missing when she failed to return home.

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Police say a witness reported seeing Abston cleaning the interior of the SUV in question hours after the abduction and that he was « behaving oddly. »

Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist, according to media reports. The family released a video statement asking for help in locating Fletcher and offered a $50,000 reward for information about the case.

« We believe someone knows what happened and can help, » Fletcher’s uncle said in the video.


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