Eliza Fletcher: Memphis police identify body of abducted jogger


Tennessee police said Tuesday that a body found in an exhaustive search lasting more than three days is a woman who was abducted and forced into an SUV during a morning jog near the University of Memphis. .

Memphis police said on Twitter that investigators have identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, 34, a schoolteacher and granddaughter of a prominent Memphis businessman.

The body was found Monday after a series of searches over Labor Day weekend for the woman who was abducted around 4 a.m. Friday, police said. A man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said. Fletcher was reported missing when she failed to return home after her usual morning jog.

A man charged with particularly aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence in the nationally publicized case was due to be arraigned on Tuesday. U.S. Marshals arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, on Saturday after police detected her DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Eliza Fletcher was last seen, according to an arrest affidavit.

Abston will now also face charges of 1st degree murder and 1st degree murder in the commission of a kidnapping, Memphis police said in a tweet Tuesday morning.

Police also linked the vehicle they believe was used in the abduction to a person at a home where Abston was staying. Online court records do not show whether Abston has an attorney who could comment on his behalf Tuesday morning.

Late Monday, police tweeted that a body had been found in a Memphis neighborhood but that person’s identity and cause of death were unconfirmed. A large police presence was reported in the area where authorities said they found the body just after 5 p.m. Memphis police had searched multiple locations with dogs, ATVs and a helicopter throughout the weekend.

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

Abston previously kidnapped a prominent Memphis attorney in 2000, the Commercial Appeal reported. When he was just 16, Abston forced Kemper Durand into the trunk of his own car at gunpoint. After several hours, Abston took Durand away and forced him to a Mapco gas station to withdraw cash from an ATM. At the station, an armed guard from the Memphis Housing Authority entered and Durand screamed for help. Abston fled but was found and arrested. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to particularly aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, according to court records. He received a 24-year sentence.

Durand, in a victim impact statement, wrote: « I was very lucky to be able to escape from the custody of Cleotha Abston. … It is very likely that I would have been killed if I hadn’t escaped me, » the Commercial Appeal said. reported.

Durand died in 2013, seven years before Abston was released in November 2020 at the age of 36. In the two years since his release, there have been no other documented charges against Abston in Shelby County before his arrest on Saturday, the Commercial Appeal reported.


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