June 4, 2023

A desperate search for missing Memphis teacher and business heiress Eliza Fletcher has come to a tragic conclusion as police uncover a body shortly after a suspect was arrested for kidnapping.

Mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher, 34, was robbed during morning jog near university Memphis Friday (September 2) on campus.

The next day, kidnapper Cleotha Abston, 38, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, a convicted kidnapper who was released in 2020 after serving a 19-year sentence.

On Monday afternoon, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) announced the discovery of a body, later confirmed to be Ms Fletcher. Abston was subsequently charged with new murder.

Here’s everything we know about the case:


Police said Ms Fletcher was outside on her routine morning run when the kidnapping unfolded around 4.20am on Friday.

Surveillance footage captured the mother of two running near the University of Memphis campus when a black 2013 GMC Terrain SUV drove past her.

The SUV came to a stop and saw a man get out of the car, who then “aggressively” ran towards the joggers.

A fierce fight broke out and the man forced Ms Fletcher onto the passenger side of the vehicle.

Eliza Fletcher, also known as Liza, was last seen wearing a pink running top, purple running shorts, and blond/brown hair up her head

(Memphis Police Department)

Footage shows the car then stayed at the scene with the pair for about four minutes before driving away.

Ms Fletcher’s family reported her missing when she failed to get home after a run. The jogger’s cell phone and water bottle were found at the kidnapping scene.

Investigators also found a pair of Champion skates – believed to belong to Abston – left over from the fight.

Photos of the suspect vehicle have been released to the public to help track down the missing mother of two.

Surveillance footage captured the same SUV stalking the area where Ms Fletcher was taken 24 minutes before the kidnapping.

Officers released surveillance video of the GMC terrain they believe was used to kidnap Ms Fletcher on Friday

(Memphis Police Department)

Arrests and Charges

Abston was arrested on Saturday, about 24 hours after the teacher was kidnapped, when investigators discovered a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect’s car.

According to an affidavit, U.S. Marshals found the SUV in a parking lot near the Abston home with the same taillights and some of the license plate markings as seen in surveillance footage of the kidnapping.

When police found Abston nearby, he tried to flee the scene but was arrested and taken away for questioning.

On Sunday, Memphis police announced that he had been charged with particularly aggravated kidnapping and evidence tampering.

The next afternoon, Memphis police charged Abston with three more charges: identity theft, theft of property under $1,000 and fraudulent use of a credit card.

According to the affidavit, Abston was found cleaning out his car and doing laundry in the sink after being kidnapped.

Eliza Fletcher was robbed while jogging in the early hours of Friday

(Family Handout)

A witness and the suspect’s brother said they saw him behaving strangely in the home and were cleaned later on Friday.

Even after cleaning, authorities said they had found blood and other evidence in the car, leading them to believe Ms Fletcher suffered “serious injuries”.

Cellphone location data also pinpointed Abston at the kidnapping scene, authorities said, and that the Champion slides were linked to him through DNA evidence and surveillance footage.

Abston reportedly refused to tell investigators where Ms Fletcher was or what happened to her before police found a body on Monday afternoon.

The body was identified as Ms Fletcher on Tuesday morning as Abston was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder.

He is now being held on $500,000 bond ahead of his first court appearance on Tuesday.

After police searched the suspect’s home, the suspect’s brother was also arrested and charged.

Mario Abston was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of fentanyl with intent to distribute and felony possession of a firearm.


Law enforcement officers have been searching the area around Ms Fletcher’s disappearance, including scouring dumpsters, ponds and parks.

Then, just after 5 p.m. Monday, police found a body in the 1600 block of Victor Street in South Memphis.

It has not been confirmed whether the body has any connection to the Fletcher case, but official sources told local broadcaster WREG Channel 3 that the body was made in the part of the area where she was found.

Local media reported that many officials from various government agencies rushed to the scene, a police helicopter circled the area, and MPD’s mobile command center and the county sheriff’s office were set up nearby.

according to Fox NewsPolice cordoned off a large area near an abandoned primary school, less than a mile after a witness told police they saw Abston vigorously clearing an SUV that matched what was seen on surveillance footage. place.

WREG Channel 3 Journalist Bria Jones also tweeted that Monday’s discovery was “very close” to where authorities seized bins near the Abston brothers’ home and took out bags as evidence.

On Tuesday morning, police confirmed the body had been identified as Ms Fletcher.

crime suspect

It is unclear whether Abston knew his alleged victim before his kidnapping on Friday, or if she was attacked randomly.

However, the 38-year-old had a previous conviction for kidnapping and was released from prison less than two years ago after serving a 20-year sentence.

In very similar circumstances to the kidnapping of Ms. Fletcher, Abston tied a Memphis lawyer to his car during an early morning attack.

On May 24, 2000, around 2 a.m., Abston approached Kemper Durand in his car, got out and forced the lawyer into the trunk of his car.

Cleotha Abston was arrested on Saturday – about 24 hours after the teacher was kidnapped

(via The Associated Press Shelby County Sheriff’s Office)

He then drove the victim around for a few hours before taking him to an ATM where he robbed him.

The victim was rescued after passersby shouted for help, causing the attackers to flee the scene.

Abston was later arrested and pleaded guilty in 2001 to particularly aggravated kidnapping.

He was sentenced to 24 years in prison and was released in November 2020 after serving 19 years.


Ms. Fletcher is well known in the local community as both a respected teacher and heir to the local business fortune.

The 34-year-old is the granddaughter of the late local businessman and philanthropist Joseph “Joe” Orgill III, who founded Orgill, a Memphis hardware supply company.

The private, family-owned business is now worth $3.2 billion and employs 5,500 people, of which the Orgill family is known locally.

The company’s website describes Orgill as “the world’s largest independently owned hardline distributor, providing more than 75,000 products and industry-leading retail services to retailers in North America and more than 60 countries around the world.”

However, instead of working in the family business, Ms Fletcher became a local kindergarten teacher.

She is married to Richard Fletcher III and they have two boys.

The teacher’s family pleaded for help finding her during an emotional press conference on Saturday

(Memphis Police Department)

Her family offered $50,000 for her return and pleaded for help finding her during an emotional news conference Saturday.

“We believe someone knows what’s going on and can help,” her uncle Mike Keeney said, as Mr Fletcher wiped a tear from the corner of his eye.

“We most want to see Lisa come home safely.”

Ms. Fletcher was last seen wearing a pink jogging top and purple running shorts. She is described as 5ft 6in tall, 137 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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