Body identified as missing billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher
6th September 2022

BREAKING: Body found in search for missing billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher IS missing mother-of-two who vanished as she was jogging, police sources say: Suspected abductor due in court today

  • A body has been identified as missing mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher by multiple police sources in Memphis, Tennessee
  • The human remains were located close to the home of kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston’s brother, Mario 
  • Following her disappearance, Cleotha was seen by neighbors washing the carpets of his 2013 GMC Terrain 
  • Abston, 38, has been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence
  • He is due to make first court appearance today and is being held at Shelby County Jail on a $500,000 bond
  • Mario Abston is in custody on charges of possession with intent to sell heroin and fentanyl and a gun offense
  • Fletcher, 34, was abducted while jogging near the University of Memphis at 4.30am on Friday morning 
  • The mother-of-two is the granddaughter of the founder of prosperous hardware company Orgill, and her family has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to her safe return 

Multiple police sources have confirmed that a body found in the search for missing mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher has been identified as the elementary school teacher.

Authorities have not yet confirmed Fletcher’s cause of death according to WHBQ-TV, but they have identified the body as the billionaire heiress, which was found seven miles from where she was last seen. 

Heartbroken neighbours have described their horror after the body was found ahead of her suspected killer’s, Cleotha Abston, court appearance in Memphis, Tennessee, today.

Abston, 38,  has been charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence in relation to her dissapearance, but has not yet been charged with murder. 

She vanished while out for a jog around 4.30am on Friday, sparking a four-day long hunt, which led officers to several wooded areas across Memphis. 

The area where the body was found is just a hundred yards from the Longview Gardens apartment complex – where Abston’s brother, Mario, lives.

A van believed to belong to the medical examiners unit left the scene six hours after the remains were found, and is thought to have been transporting the body. 

Photos from the scene showed a police helicopter circling above the search. Horrified neighbors gathered around the crime scene as the gruesome discovery was made. 

‘It’s emotional, it really hurts,’ April Jackson, 30, told DailyMail.com at 7.30pm, with the body yet to be removed.

‘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. 

‘It makes me sick.’ She was out yesterday offering to aid the search, when police and a bloodhound were out in the area, within a couple hundred yards of the body. 

In the criminal complaint against Cleotha, witnesses were quoted as saying they saw the suspect at his brother’s home behaving strangely and washing the carpet of this 2013 GMC Terrain. 

The violent felon, accused of snatching billionaire heiress Eliza, had stalked the area she went missing from while jogging for almost 30 minutes before her abduction.

Eliza Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped after being forced into a black SUV on Friday. The driver of that SUV, Cleotha Abston, was arrested over the weekend and multiple police sources have confirmed that a body found is the missing mother-of-two

A map illustrating the scale of the citywide search for Eliza Fletcher in Memphis 

Suspect Cleotha Abston, pictured here shortly after his release from prison in 2020, is being held on a $500,000 bond in relation to kidnapping charges.He will appear in court today on charges of kidnapping and tampering with evidence but he has yet to be charged with any additional crimes after the body was found

The scene showing the search for Fletcher just prior to the announcement of the grisly discovery on Monday evening, which has now been confirmed as the missing jogger

Members of the Memphis Police Department’s Auto Theft Task Force shown at the site of the search, which is just seven miles from where Eliza was reported missing

The tweet from local police announcing the discovery of the remains, though they have not officially confirmed the identity of the decesased 

The disappearance of Eliza Fletcher 

September 2, 4.30am: Fletcher, 34, goes for a jog near the University of Memphis campus and is bundled into a dark SUV

7.45am: Officers are dispatched after husband Richard reports her disappearance. They find  her water battle and smashed cell phone in front of a home near the scene

September 3: Cops tow her family car from her home. Investigators were also seen to label a pair of garden shears and a computer as evidence. They scour a local park and release CCTV of GMC Terrain

Cleo Abston, 38, is arrested with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence. He was identified as the owner of the black SUV. He was apprehended after he was involved in a car wreck with an Alcohol Tobacco Firearms vehicle on Saturday night. It is later revealed he was recently released from a 20-year sentence for a similar crime

September 4: Abston is charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence

September 5: Cops search pond and park. New charges are filed against Abston of identity theft, theft of property and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit card of $1000 or less

A body is found near Abston’s brother’s home. It has not been confirmed as Fletcher’s 

 

On Sunday, a neighbor of Mario Abston’s told DailyMail.com exclusively that she had seen the suspect at his brother’s house nearly every day for the last month.

Authorities arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, before charging him with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s disappearance on September 2.

Officers have footage of the vehicle used in the kidnapping in the same area 24 minutes before the mother-of-two was taken at 4:20am in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Surveillance footage obtained by police, which has not been released, show a man running ‘aggressively’ towards Fletcher and forcing her into the passenger side of the vehicle.

The pair struggled, and the car then sat in the parking lot for four minutes with Fletcher inside before driving off to an unknown location.

Abston also had new charges filed against him that include identity theft, theft of property and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit card of $1000 or less.

Shortly before the discovery of the remains, it emerged that Abston has priors for aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon and rape, all while he was a juvenile, according to a new report from the Commercial Appeal.  

Officers were previously searching Martin Luther King Riverside park, as well as a pond within the area, and Pine Hill Park in relation to the missing mother. 

Abston’s arrest comes just over two years after her was released from prison where he served 20 years for the kidnapping and robbery of lawyer Kemper Durand in Memphis in May 2000.

He also appeared in juvenile court records in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 for charges including theft, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, and rape. 

Police tracked him down after finding his DNA on Champion sliders that were left behind during the struggle with Fletcher, as well as her cell phone and water bottle.

His bail has been set at $500,000, and it is understood that he is refusing to cooperate with police.


Fletcher was last seen about 4.20am on Friday, when she was jogging (right) in Memphis and a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said

A Memphis Police Department mobile command unit remained in the area as night fell 

Authorities have not confirmed that the remains that were found are those of Eliza Fletcher

A member of the Memphis Police Department collects events as police continue to look for clues in the search for Fletcher

Police believe that Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher, suffered ‘serious injury’ at the hands of Abston and that blood was left in the vehicle.

His brother, Mario Abston, 36, was also arrested on Saturday after offices searched his home when his brother was spotted acting ‘suspiciously’ by neighbors.

Officers found a semi-automatic handgun, a scale with a bag of heroin and fentanyl, and he was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and possession of controlled substances.

Abston told police that his brother had been cleaning the interior of his GMC Terrain with floor cleaner, as well as washing his clothes in the sink of the house.

Another neighbor confirmed that Abston was acting ‘very strange’, and police determined that his phone pinged near to where Fletcher was taken.

Officers removed a dumpster close to Abston’s brothers low-income apartment complex over the weekend.

Missing mother Eliza Fletcher pictured with her husband Richie and their two children

Police were seen searching dumpsters outside of a McDonald’s restaurant along South Perkins Street in the city

This is the SUV cops say abducted Fletcher, identified as a dark-colored GMC Terrain which was discovered on Saturday

Memphis Police Department officers searching for clues in the ground close to the home of Cleotha Abston’s brother’s home

Authorities went to Abston’s last known address and found the same black SUV with the damaged taillight. The affidavit said Abston was standing in the doorway when police arrived and that he began to flee, but was soon apprehended.

Abston still has not said where Fletcher is or what he did to her. The affidavit said evidence, including blood, found in Abston’s car led them to believe Fletcher suffered a ‘serious injury.’

‘The investigation into the abduction of Eliza Fletcher is still active and ongoing. Investigators are continuing the search and following all leads,’ police said in a statement on Sunday after announcing Abston’s arrest.

Police were also seen searching dumpsters outside of a McDonald’s restaurant in Memphis on Saturday evening as they searched for the kindergarten teacher and mother.

After the discovery of the car, Fletcher’s family, her father, Beasley, mother, Adele, brother Gill and her husband appeared on camera alongside their lawyer, Mike Keeney.

They have offered a $50,000 reward for any information that results in Fletcher being brought home safely.

In the statement, Keeney thanked the law enforcement for their search efforts and stated: ‘We believe someone knows what happened and can help.’ 

At this station, Fletcher’s husband became overcome with emotion.

Fletcher, a fitness fanatic who would regularly jog the same route, had her phone hurled to the ground and smashed during the crime. 

The mother-of-two is described at being 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink jogging top and purple running shorts. 

The abducted woman is the granddaughter of hardware magnate Joseph ‘Joe’ Orgill III who died in 2018. 

Fletcher’s mother, Adele, is Orgill’s daughter. Their hardware wholesale family business, Orgill Inc., does $3 billion in annual sales, according to the company’s website.

The description of the company on the website calls Orgill ‘the world’s largest independent hardline distributor with annual sales of $3 billion.’ The company is privately owned.

Abston still has not said where Fletcher is or what he did to her. The affidavit said evidence, including blood, found in Abston’s car led them to believe Fletcher suffered a ‘serious injury’

A different resident posted this photo showing members of the Memphis Police Department SWAT Team preparing for a raid in the complex in the search for Eliza Fletcher

More than 5,500 people are employed by the company.  

On Friday, police had searched a park near the site where a wealthy heiress was abducted and forced into vehicle, as they search for clues in the baffling case.

A neighbor described Abston as a ‘pervert,’ who once snuck up behind her and propositioned her for sex.

He did the same to other women in the complex, and at times would sit in his black SUV gawking at women walking by or sitting on stoops.

Another neighbor, Latoya, 35, said the suspect also propositioned her and her 20-year-old niece earlier this year.

Latoya told DailyMail.com: ‘He kept waving me over to him and was like. ‘I’ve got $100.

‘He tried to catch my niece too, tried to get her to come into the apartment with him.

‘As far as I know, nobody here have sex with him,’ she said. ‘He creepy, he really creepy.’

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