Body of abducted jogger Eliza Fletcher is identified in Memphis

A body found after a three-day search in Memphis, Tenn., is identified as a woman who was abducted during an early-morning jog.


Police in Tennessee said Tuesday that a body found after an exhaustive three-day search is that of a woman who was abducted during an early morning jog near the University of Memphis.

Memphis police said on Twitter that investigators identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, 34, a schoolteacher and granddaughter of a prominent Memphis businessman.

The body was found Monday after a series of searches over the Labor Day weekend for the woman who was kidnapped at about 4 a.m. Friday, police said. A man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said. Fletcher was reported missing when she did not return home from her regular morning run.


U.S. Marshals arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, on Saturday after police detected his DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Fletcher was last seen, according to an arrest affidavit. Abston was charged with aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence and had an arraignment on Tuesday.

Abston will now also be facing a charges of first-degree murder, Memphis police said in a tweet Tuesday morning.

Abston is also charged with theft, identity theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. Bail was set at $510,000. Abston said he could not afford bond and he could not afford a lawyer. General Sessions Judge Louis Montesi appointed a public defender to represent Abston.

Police linked the vehicle they believe was used in the kidnapping to a person at a home where Abston was staying.

Authorities reported finding the body in a Memphis neighborhood just after 5 p.m. Monday. Police had searched several locations with dogs, ATVs and a helicopter throughout the long weekend.

Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist. The family has released a video statement asking for help in finding Fletcher and offered a $50,000 reward for information in the case.


Abston previously kidnapped a prominent Memphis attorney in 2000, when he was just 16 years old, the Commercial Appeal reported. The attorney managed to escape and Abston was later arrested. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, according to court records. He received a 24-year sentence.

In the two years since his release, there were no further documented charges against Abston in Shelby County prior to his Saturday arrest, the Commercial Appeal reported.