This past weekend, the city of Memphis was utterly shocked by the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher. The mother of two was kidnapped on September 2nd, and since then, the Memphis Police Department has made an abundance of leads in the case.
The Daily Helmsman has compiled a complete timeline of the horrendous crime.
Friday, September 2nd
At approximately 4 a.m. on Friday, September 2nd, the St. Mary’s school teacher began her routine jog. Wearing a pink sports bra and purple shorts, Fletcher took her regular route—which went through Central Avenue near the University of Memphis.
Simultaneously, a black GMC Terrain was caught on surveillance camera driving near the college campus for nearly 25 minutes.
Twenty minutes into her run, Fletcher was snatched and aggressively thrown into the SUV. According to an affidavit, “there appeared to be a struggle” before he forced her into the passenger seat.
Following this, the GMC remained in the same spot for four minutes before pulling off.
The Investigation Begins
Hours later, a biker named Miles Fortas stumbled upon Fletcher’s phone. Not thinking much of it, he had hoped to return it to her family. That was until he found a pair of Champion slides—which would eventually be tied to their prime suspect.
Once alerted that Floras found these items, the victim’s husband, Richard Fletcher, notified police that his wife had not returned from her run. It didn’t take much longer before law enforcement launched a city-wide search for the 5-foot-6, 135-pound woman.
As the investigation began, witnesses caught the suspect cleaning the interior of the vehicle in question. Additionally, they reported that he was “washing his clothes in the sink of the house” and acting oddly.
Later that evening, the victim’s family released a video statement urging the community to help find their loved one. They offered a $50,000 award for any pertinent information.
At the same time, social media users were made aware that Fletcher was an heiress. Her grandfather, Joseph Orgill III, was a billionaire who owned a billion-dollar hardware company.
Saturday, September 3rd
Vehicle and Suspect Found
The following day, US Marshals located the GMC Terrain near the 5700 block of Waterstone Oak Way-- the prime suspect’s home. Cleotha Abston, a 38-year-old man, was taken into custody.
According to Marshals, Abston attempted to flee but was apprehended. The affidavit stated that the criminal “declined to provide investigators with the location of the victim.”
Police also revealed that evidence showed that Fletcher sustained severe injuries.
Sunday, September 4th
Cleotha Abston is Charged
On Sunday, Abston was “officially charged in connection with the abduction of Eliza Fletcher,” as announced by the police. His bond was set at $500,000 for tampering with evidence and especially aggravated kidnapping.
Court records revealed that Abston was a repeat offender. In 2000, when he was 16 years of age, he forced a Memphis lawyer into his trunk. Following this, he held the man at gunpoint and forced him to get money out of the ATM.
Monday, September 5th
Officials Find a Body
At approximately 5 p.m., police located a dead body in South Memphis. Located near Victor Street and Person Avenue, law enforcement could not confirm if the body was Eliza’s.
Tuesday, September 6th
Body Confirmed to be Eliza’s
Early Tuesday morning, the Memphis Police Department verified the body as 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher. According to MPD, Abston’s charges were brought to first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping.
Abston Appears in Court
At 10:00 a.m., the suspect appeared in front of a judge. There, he admitted to not being able to afford his $500,000 bond or an attorney. He was issued a public defender who asked to put a gag order on the case.
As of now, these are all the details made available regarding the case. The Daily Helmsman will make updates as they come.