UPDATE, TUESDAY: Police identify Eliza Fletcher’s body; Abston charged with murder
UPDATE: Cleotha Abston is now facing additional charges of identity theft, theft of property $1000 or less, and fraudulent use of a debit card $1000 or less.
UPDATE: Memphis Police have confiscated the dumpster outside Abston’s brother’s apartment complex.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Police have arrested a suspect in the kidnapping case of missing Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher.
Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, Memphis Police announced early Sunday.
According to records, Abston refused to provide investigators with information regarding Fletcher’s location. Records also state that the abduction, which was caught on camera, was violent in nature and may have resulted in serious bodily injury.
Police said Abston was the person who was detained Saturday when the SUV connected to the case was found.
According to the website for the Shelby County jail, Abston’s bond has been set at $500,000. Abston is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, September 6.
Fletcher has not been located. Police said the search for her is still active.
Shelby County court records show Abston pleaded guilty to an especially aggravated kidnapping charge in 2000. The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office confirmed with WREG that Abston was convicted in the kidnapping of attorney Kemper Durand.
He was sentenced to 24 years in that case and released in November 2020, the Tennessee Department of Corrections said.
Fletcher, a teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, left her home on Carr Avenue early Friday morning and was last seen jogging on Central Avenue near the University of Memphis around 4:20 a.m. That’s when police say someone pushed her into a dark-colored SUV.
Her family is offering a $50,000 reward for information.
Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph “Joe” Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist, the Associated Press reports.
A second person was arrested in the same operation, but police say he is not believed to be connected to Fletcher’s abduction.
Mario Abston, 36, was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Manufacture and Sell Fentanyl, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Manufacture and Sell Heroin, and Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Dangerous Felony.