MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Police have arrested a suspect in the kidnapping case of missing Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher, who disappeared while jogging last week.
Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, Memphis Police announced early Sunday.
Fletcher has not been located. Memphis police said the search for her is still active. In an arrest affidavit, police said they have evidence that leads them to believe she was seriously injured in the abduction near the University of Memphis campus. Authorities have said they have surveillance video of the abduction.
According to the affidavit, investigators found Abston’s DNA on a pair of sandals near where Fletcher was last seen. Abston refused to provide investigators with information regarding Fletcher’s location, the records said.
Police said Abston was the person who was detained Saturday when the SUV connected to the case was found.
A dumpster outside Abston’s bother’s apartment complex has also been confiscated by Memphis Police, Nexstar’s WREG has learned.
Shelby County court records show Abston pleaded guilty to an especially aggravated kidnapping charge in 2000. 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.
Police said a witness reported seeing Abston cleaning the inside of the SUV in question a few hours after the abduction and that he was “behaving oddly.”
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 drug and firearm-related offenses.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.