'Get rid of them': Residents near house where Eliza Fletcher’s body was found want abandoned homes torn down

People have called for the demolition of abandoned homes and lots on Victor St in Memphis for years as these houses provide a spot for dumping bodies

'Get rid of them': Residents near house where Eliza Fletcher’s body was found want abandoned homes torn down
Eliza Fletcher's body was discovered by the steps of a run-down one-story property (@RyanGirdusky/Twitter video screenshot)
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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: The chilling abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher has shocked Memphis and instilled a sense of fear in the minds of neighbors. A Memphis mother and her goddaughter are now asking that the abandoned home where Fletcher's body was found be brought down. “It’s been emotional and it hurts because it could have been anyone of us. She’s a mother of two small kids,” said the Memphis mom who regularly visits the neighborhood. "Then my sister-in-law’s grandbaby, she taught her.” “I’ve been out here ever since I found out that she was missing,” she added.

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The mom now believes she and her goddaughter, both unnamed, must do something. “My god mom just kept saying you need to check the abandoned houses and yall need to check the grave sites,” said the goddaughter, according to localmemphis.com. Both of them said that they searched the area for Fletcher on September 4, and pulled up in the driveway of a home near where the billionaire heiress' body was found a day later.

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“I pulled in this very driveway Sunday, and my goddaughter was like don’t get out the car. It’s too dark,” the mom said. “We pulled into the driveway not knowing this is where the lady was, and my god mom was like do you want to get out here and check over?" the goddaughter recalled. "I was like no. I was scared.” 

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Police in Tennessee found the body of Fletcher soon after she was kidnapped. The 34-year-old mother-of-two was forced into a black SUV in a “violent” manner while being abducted and 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. Her body was later discovered by the steps of a run-down one-story property only yards away from where police last spotted the vehicle she was forced into.

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The mom-goddaughter duo is now asking that these abandoned homes be torn down. They also want the grass on the properties to be properly maintained. “They need to cut all this grass down," the goddaughter said. "All these abandoned houses, they need to get rid of them.” They said grass has grown to over 6 feet tall in some of the yards, giving murderers an easy place to hide their crimes. 

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Neighbor Mary Murphy is also determined to fight against badly maintained lots. “Did somebody have to die to get a bright light shown on it?” said Murphy. "This woman has lost her life on a piece of property that you knew, somebody knew that it was abandoned.”

The city has said that people have been calling for the demolition of abandoned homes and lots on Victor St for years. They say these houses provide a spot to suspected killers for dumping bodies. “The city needs to do better," said the Memphis mother. "As far as, if people got property and they can’t get their taxes paid, demolish.”  

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Meanwhile, Cleotha Abston has been charged with an unrelated kidnapping and rape a year earlier. This information was revealed by DNA evidence compiled from his most recent arrest. During a hearing on Thursday, September 8, the 38-year-old was handed down a second indictment with a judge denying him bail. The new charges appeared in the Shelby County criminal justice portal. Abston was rebooked on new charges of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and unlawful carrying of a weapon. According to Memphis Police, the new charges come in connection with a rape kit sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in September 2021 after an unidentified woman approached the police about the alleged crimes.

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Authorities have yet to confirm Fletcher’s cause of death. Fletcher was an elementary school teacher and the granddaughter of a hardware company billionaire, the late Joseph Orgill III. 

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