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Memphis police identify body of kidnapped female jogger missing since Friday

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Image Source: WHBQ-TV video screenshot

Memphis police announced on Tuesday that they had identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, a woman who was allegedly abducted by Cleotha Abston, 38, during her morning jog.

Fletcher, a 34-year-old school teacher, was declared missing on Friday when she did not return from her morning run, WHBQ-TV reported.

The mother of two was jogging near the University of Memphis when she was stopped by a vehicle. Security cameras revealed that Fletcher was forced into the SUV.

On Saturday, U.S. Marshals arrested Abston after finding his DNA on a pair of sandals discovered close to where Fletcher was last seen. In addition, the arrest affidavit revealed that Abston’s cellphone was determined to be in the area where the woman was abducted.

The suspect refused to provide any details about what happened to Fletcher or where she was located.

Police used dogs, ATVs, and a helicopter to search for the school teacher over the weekend.

Around 5 p.m. on Monday, authorities discovered a body behind a vacant duplex. Police noticed vehicle tracks in the high grass behind the duplex and an odor of decay in the area. Authorities also located a trash bag containing purple running shots, fitting the description of Fletcher’s outfit.

Law enforcement confirmed that the body was Fletcher’s on Tuesday morning.

Memphis police director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis stated that it is too early in the investigation to determine Fletcher’s cause of death.

Abston was convicted in 2000 for kidnapping a prominent Memphis attorney, Kemper Durand. He forced Durand into the trunk of his own vehicle at gunpoint and ordered him to withdraw money from an ATM. Durand was able to get away from the 16-year-old assailant.

Abston was sentenced to 24 years in prison for that crime, but he served only 20. Now, just two years after his release, he is being charged with the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Eliza Fletcher.

In a Tuesday statement, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally argued that if Abston had been held in prison for the entire duration of his sentence, he would not have been able to attack Fletcher, the Associated Press reported.

“This case not only proves that the recently passed Truth in Sentencing Act was necessary, but that it was long overdue,” McNally said. “We must redouble our efforts to ensure those who transgress against citizens are punished — and severely.”

The Truth in Sentencing Act, a law which went into effect in Tennessee on July 1, requires violent criminals to serve an entire sentence without the possibility of early release.
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