body found in Memphis is of kidnapped teacher, police say

() — The body found in Memphis this week is that of teacher Eliza Fletcher, who was kidnapped last Friday while jogging, police said Tuesday. There’s a suspicious in custody who now faces murder charges, authorities added.

Fletcher, 34, was identified as the person found dead Monday in Memphis, Tennessee, about 12 miles from where surveillance video showed she was forced up to a van in the early morning this friday, said the Memphis Police on Twitter.

Cleotha Abston, the 38-year-old suspect arrested over the weekend, now faces murder charges in the perpetration of a kidnapping, in addition to kidnapping and other prior charges, Shelby County court records show.

Abston appeared in court on Tuesday morning.

Fletcher’s cause of death was not immediately known.

The footage of Fletcher’s kidnapping

Fletcher was jogging around 4 am Friday in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis when a man chased her and forced her into a black pickup truck, authorities believe.

Eliza Fletcher

Eliza “Liza” Fletcher

After her husband reported her missing and someone found her phone on a street, police found surveillance video from the area showing a black GMC Terrain pickup truck driving past her, according to an affidavit obtained by . A man is then seen getting out of the vehicle and “aggressively” running towards her, before forcing her into the passenger seat, according to footage cited in the affidavit.

The truck remained in a parking lot for about four minutes before driving away, according to the affidavit.

Fletcher was a kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, according to a tweet from the institution.

What we know about the suspect

Cleotha Abston

Cleotha Abston

Over the weekend, police arrested and charged Abston after the GMC Terrain was found in a parking lot near his residence in southeast Memphis, the affidavit reads. He initially faced charges of aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

The suspect was being held at the Shelby County Jail on $500,000 bond, according to jail records. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

Abston served a previous prison sentence for an aggravated kidnapping more than 20 years ago, court records show.

He pleaded guilty in November 2001 to a charge of aggravated kidnapping. He was released in November 2020, according to court records.

Police evidence in the Fletcher case

In the affidavit, investigators presented evidence they wrote led them to arrest Abston.

First, they analyzed a pair of sandals found at the kidnapping scene, near the victim’s phone. DNA found on the shoes matched Abston’s, the affidavit says.

Surveillance footage from a local theater the day before Fletcher’s disappearance showed Abston wearing what authorities believe are the same Champion sandals found at the crime scene, according to the affidavit.

Upon investigating Abston’s residence, police discovered that he lived in a house whose utilities are registered to a female GMC Terrain owner, the document says.

Investigators then interviewed Abston’s employer, who said he drove a GMC Terrain and verified his phone number. Investigators reviewed Abston’s cell phone records, which showed that he was near the location of the abduction when it occurred, according to the affidavit.

Additionally, a U.S. Marshals Service task force found a GMC Terrain near Abston’s residence on Saturday morning, and it had the same distinguishable damage and partial license plate information seen in the footage. surveillance of Fletcher’s kidnapping, the affidavit states.

Police also gathered details from witnesses who said they met Abston after the kidnapping.

Cell phone records also place Abston at the site during the time of Fletcher’s abduction Friday morning, according to the affidavit.

A witness said he saw Abston at his brother’s house after the kidnapping, the document said. Both the witness and his brother said Abston was behaving strangely as he cleaned the interior of his truck and washed his clothes in the sink.

‘s Jamiel Lynch, Tina Burnside, Hannah Sarisohn, Anne Clifford and Jennifer Feldman contributed to this report.

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Written by Editor TLN

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