April 1, 2023

Body Found near Memphis identified Monday as a Tennessee woman who was kidnapped late last week, police say Tuesday. Surveillance footage showed Eliza Fletcher, 34, being forced into an SUV while jogging near the University of Memphis on Friday morning.

The suspect arrested in the case, 38-year-old Cleotha Abston, was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder, police said.

Abston was due to be arraigned on Tuesday.he has been charged Kidnapping and evidence tampering are particularly serious in public cases across the country.

U.S. Marshal arrested him on saturday Police found Fletcher’s DNA on a pair of sandals found near where he was last seen, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police also linked the vehicle they believe was used in the kidnapping to a person living in Abston. Online court records do not show whether Abston had a lawyer available to comment on his behalf on Tuesday morning.

Fletcher was a school teacher and the granddaughter of the late Memphis hardware merchant and philanthropist Joseph Ogier III. The family released a video statement asking for help finding Fletcher and a $50,000 reward for information on the case.

Abston had kidnapped a prominent Memphis lawyer in 2000, Business Appeal ReportWhen he was only 16, Abston forced Kemper Durand at gunpoint into the trunk of his own car. Hours later, Abston took Durand out and forced him to drive to a Mapco gas station to withdraw money from the ATM.

At the station, an armed Memphis Housing Authority guard walked in, and Durand cried out for help. Abston escaped, but was found and arrested. He pleaded guilty to particularly aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery in 2001, according to court records. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Durand wrote in a victim impact statement: “I am extremely fortunate to have escaped the custody of Cleotha Abston. … If I hadn’t escaped, I would have likely been killed,” the Business Appeal reported.

Durand died in 2013, seven years before Abston was released in November 2020 at age 36. In the two years since his release and before his Saturday arrest, there were no further charges against Abston on record in Shelby County, the Business Appeals report said.

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