Police sources have confirmed that a body recently found in the search for Eliza Fletcher is indeed the missing mother-of-two.
While authorities are yet to confirm Fletcher’s cause of death, they have identified the body as the 34-year-old elementary school teacher after it was found seven miles from where she was last seen. Residents in the neighborhood expressed their horror after the body was found just hours before her suspected killer Cleotha Abston’s court appearance in Memphis on Tuesday, September 6. 38-year-old Abston has been charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence in connection with Fletcher’s disappearance, but hasn’t been charged with murder at the time of publication.
The billionaire heiress was out for an early morning jog at around 4.30 am on Friday, September 2, when she went missing. Her disappearance sparked a four-day search effort that led officers to a number of wooded areas across Memphis. The body was found about a hundred yards from the Longview Gardens apartment complex where Abston’s brother Mario lives. A van from the medical examiner’s unit was reportedly seen leaving the scene six hours after the body was first found, and is thought to have been transporting the remains. A police helicopter hovered above the area as shocked neighbors gathered around the crime scene in wake of the tragic discovery.
A crime scene investigation van is now leaving the scene. pic.twitter.com/iyLFDnoLG1
— Bria Jones (@BriaJonesTV) September 6, 2022
“It’s emotional, it really hurts,” neighbor April Jackson, 30, told the Daily Mail at 7.30 pm local time, when the body was yet to be removed from the scene. “That could have been anybody out jogging that morning, a student, anyone. And he was just released two years ago for another abduction and he gets out and does it again,” she said, adding, “It makes me sick.” Jackson told the newspaper she had offered to aid the search Monday, September 5, when police and a bloodhound were scouring the area within a couple of hundred yards of the body.
The man charged in the kidnapping of #ElizaFletcher pled guilty to the same crime in 2001. He was sentenced to 24 years in jail. So why was he prowling our streets? Those responsible for letting this man out of prison should be facing charges, too. #Memphis pic.twitter.com/8RqAKfSO7D
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) September 4, 2022
Witnesses previously told the police how they saw the suspect at his brother’s home behaving erratically and washing the carpet of his 2013 GMC Terrain. The violent felon, who allegedly abducted Fletcher, had stalked the area she went missing from while jogging for nearly half an hour before she was taken.
Cleotha Abston was arrested and charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s disappearance on September 2. Investigators obtained footage of the vehicle used in the kidnapping in the same area 24 minutes before the tragic mother-of-two was snatched at 4.20 am in Memphis. Police said they obtained surveillance footage, which is yet to be released, showing a man running “aggressively” towards Fletcher and forcing her into the passenger side of the vehicle. After a brief struggle, the car sat in the parking lot for four minutes and then drove off to an unknown location. It’s worth noting that Abston also had new charges filed against him including identity theft, theft of property, and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit card of $1000 or less, the Daily Mail reported.