Man charged with abducting missing Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher

MEMPHIS, TN (WREG) – Police have arrested a suspect in the kidnapping case of missing Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher, who disappeared while jogging last week.

Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with particularly aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, Memphis police said on Sunday.

Fletcher has not been found. Memphis police said the search for her is still active. In an affidavit of arrest, police say they have evidence that leads them to believe she was seriously injured in the abduction near the University of Memphis campus. Authorities said they have surveillance video of the abduction.

In this photo provided by the Memphis Police Department, 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher is shown. (Courtesy of the Memphis Police Department via AP)

According to the affidavit, investigators found Abston’s DNA on a pair of sandals near where Fletcher was last seen. Abston declined to provide investigators with information about Fletcher’s location, records show.

Police say Abston was the person who was arrested on Saturday when the SUV linked to the case was found.

A dumpster outside Abston’s apartment complex was also confiscated by Memphis police, Nexstar’s WREG learned.

Shelby County court records show Abston pleaded guilty to a particularly aggravated kidnapping charge in 2000. He was sentenced to 24 years in that case and released in November 2020, the Department of Corrections said. Tennessee.

Fletcher, a teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, left her home on Carr Avenue early Friday morning and was last seen jogging on Central Avenue near the University of Memphis around 4:20 a.m. That’s when police say someone pushed her into an SUV.

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.”

His family is offering a $50,000 reward for information.

Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph “Joe” Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist, reports the Associated Press.

A second person was arrested in connection with the same operation, but police say he does not appear to be connected to Fletcher’s kidnapping. Mario Abston, 36, has been charged with drug and firearms offences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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