'Mourning Eliza Fletcher': Baylor University joins others in paying tribute to ex-student after body found

Eliza Fletcher was 'violently' abducted and later murdered by Cleotha Abston, who stalked her and waited for her to run past him on her morning jog

'Mourning Eliza Fletcher': Baylor University joins others in paying tribute to ex-student after body found
Baylor University (R) fondly remembered ex-student Eliza Fletcher (L) after she was brutally murdered (@BelmontUniv and @Baylor/Twitter)
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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: Police in Tennessee have found the body of missing heiress Eliza Fletcher. The 34-year-old mother-of-two was forced into a black SUV in a “violent” manner while being abducted. A pair of sandals left at the scene led the police to her alleged abductor Cleotha Abston, who reportedly stalked her and waited for her to run past him on her morning jog before he could ambush her. Authorities have yet to confirm Fletcher's cause of death.

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Tributes and condolences are pouring in for the late billionaire heiress. Among many who fondly remembered Fletcher is Baylor University, where she was a former student with ambitions of becoming a teacher. "We join those nationwide mourning the tragic death of Eliza Fletcher (BSED '10)," Baylor University tweeted. "Fletcher earned her bachelor's in exercise & sports science from Baylor in 2010 on her way to becoming an elementary school teacher back home in Memphis."

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Fletcher later went on to become a kindergarten teacher at St Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis. She was employed at this school at the time of her disappearance. Fletcher was an elementary school teacher and the granddaughter of a hardware company billionaire, late Joseph Orgill III. 

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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also shared its condolences after Fletcher's body was found. Law enforcement officials said that it was an "exhaustive" search over the long holiday weekend, according to Newsweek. The search included dogs, ATVs, and a helicopter.

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In a tweet, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said, "We are heartbroken by the outcome of this case but are proud of the work of @MEM_PoliceDept. We are glad to have assisted their efforts that led to the arrest of Cleotha Abston. Our deepest condolences to Eliza's family and all those who knew and loved her."


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Fletcher had run from her home in the Central Gardens neighborhood to an area near the University of Memphis campus. After Fletcher's abduction, one Miles Fortas was riding his bike when he found Fletcher’s cell phone and a pair of Champion slide sandals where the kidnapping occurred. He turned them over to authorities.

“DNA found on the shoes matched DNA for Cleotha Abston”, and it was already in a police database, an affidavit said. The car used during the kidnapping reportedly belonged to a local cleaning service where Abston was employed. Officers arrested him soon after. “He attempted to flee but was taken into custody,” the police document said. Abston has now been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping.

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