Eliza Fletcher's body found: Remains discovered 7 miles from where missing teacher was last seen
Sources have stated that the body is Eliza Fletcher's and said the cause of death is unconfirmed at present
WARNING: This article contains information about a kidnapping that some people may find triggering or upsetting. Discretion is advised.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: In a shocking development in the abduction of billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher, a body was found on Monday evening, September 5, in the area that was cordoned off by law enforcement in Memphis. Police have not confirmed that the body is Fletcher's. The body was discovered around seven miles from where she was last seen.
Fletcher, 34, was forced into a black SUV in a “violent” manner while she was on her morning jog. 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 before he could ambush her. She had run from her home in the Central Gardens neighborhood to an area near the University of Memphis campus. Abston, 38, has been arrested and charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence.
"At 5:07 pm, officers in the 1600 block of Victor located a deceased party. The identity of this person and the cause of death is unconfirmed at this time. The investigation is ongoing," Memphis Police Dept wrote on Twitter.
At 5:07 pm, officers in the 1600 block of Victor located a deceased party. The identity of this person and the cause of death is unconfirmed at this time. The investigation is ongoing.— Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) September 6, 2022
Once additional information is available, we will provide an update. pic.twitter.com/LwnCdCYz1z
According to police documents obtained by the New York Post, Tennessee authorities found surveillance footage that shows Abston running “aggressively toward the victim, and then force the victim Eliza Fletcher into the passenger’s side of the vehicle". “During the abduction, there appeared to be a struggle,” according to the affidavit, which cited “noticeable damage to the back-passenger taillight area” of the GMC Terrain.
Police said Fletcher was forced into the black SUV, “the vehicle then sat in the parking lot with the victim inside for approximately four minutes before it drove off". What happened during that time is unclear. “As the abduction was violent with, as captured on video, the suspect waiting for, then rushing towards the victim, then forcing the victim into the car, where she was confined and removed and continues to be missing, it is believed and supported by the facts and physical evidence that she suffered serious injury,” the affidavit said. “Further, it is probable and apparent from witness statements that these injuries left evidence of blood in the car the defendant cleaned,” it added.
The document says that one Miles Fortas was riding his bike when he found Fletcher’s cell phone and a pair of Champion slide sandals in the area where the kidnapping took place. He turned them over to authorities. “DNA found on the shoes matched DNA for Cleotha Abston”, and it was already in a police database, the affidavit said.
The car used during the kidnapping reportedly belongs 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.
A witness said she saw Abston “cleaning the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner” just before 8 am on Friday morning and reported to police that “he was behaving oddly.” He was also seen washing his clothes in a sink. The day before the kidnapping, authorities found footage of him wearing Champion slides. His cell phone had also pinged near the site of the crime.
Fletcher is an elementary school teacher and the granddaughter of a hardware company billionaire. She is married and has two young sons. Police are seeking the public's help to find her.