Body found in South Memphis identified as Eliza Fletcher; suspect faces additional charges in her death

Memphis police say they have detained a man who was found inside a vehicle of interest after a...
Memphis police say they have detained a man who was found inside a vehicle of interest after a woman was abducted while jogging on Friday.(Memphis Police Dept.)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 4:58 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 12:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As the search for Eliza Fletcher entered day four Tuesday morning, Memphis Police Department confirmed the body found in South Memphis Monday evening was identified as 34-year-old Fletcher.

The Memphis wife and mom of two was reported missing Friday after not returning from her morning jog. Memphis Police Department issued a City Watch alert soon after her kidnapping but Tuesday morning around 8:40 a.m. investigators canceled the alert.

Moments later MPD announced the body was identified as Fletcher.

Fletcher’s family released a statement Tuesday regarding their loved one’s death:

“We are heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss. Liza was such a joy to so many - her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone who knew her.

Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her. We appreciate all the expressions of love and concern we have received. We are grateful beyond measure to local, state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible for this horrible crime.

We hope that everyone, including media representatives, understand the need for the family to grieve in privacy without outside intrusion during this painful time.”

St. Mary’s Episcopal School, the school Fletcher taught at, also issued a heartfelt statement via Facebook.

Memphis police officers discovered the body at Chestnut Avenue and Victor Street. This is where investigators say the man charged in Fletcher’s disappearance, Cleotha Abston, was seen cleaning his vehicle after her abduction.

Fletcher was reported missing early Friday morning. She was last seen jogging on Central Avenue near the University of Memphis.

Later that day, Fletcher’s cell phone and a pair of champion slides were turned over to the police.

Police were later able to link those slides back to Abston.

Police say they believe he is the man seen on surveillance video, forcing Fletcher in a black GMC Terrain Friday morning.

Police believe missing Eliza Fletcher ‘suffered serious injury’

After the incident, witnesses reported Abston cleaning out that SUV and said his behavior was odd.

Abston made his first court appearance on kidnapping and tampering with evidence charges in Fletcher’s abduction Tuesday morning.

He is also now facing additional charges in Fletcher’s murder -- first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping.

Abston’s charges fall under Tennessee’s new truth in sentencing law. If he is found guilty, he would have to serve 100% of the sentence.

While awaiting arraignment on these charges his initial charges, Abston also received charges in an unrelated case.

A report from Memphis police says a woman reported someone was using her Cash App account and Wisely card at gas stations, totaling more than $900.

He is charged with identity theft, theft of property under $1,000 and fraudulent use of a debit or credit card.

This police report was filed one day before Eliza Fletcher was abducted.

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