Police Identify Body as Missing Teacher

Eliza Fletcher was abducted in Memphis last week
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2022 12:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2022 9:16 AM CDT
Man Charged With Kidnapping Eliza Fletcher Has Kidnapped Before
In this photo provided by the Memphis Police Department, 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher is shown.   (Courtesy of Memphis Police Department via AP)

Update: Memphis police have confirmed the worst: A body found on Monday—days after the abduction of 34-year-old teacher Eliza Fletcher—is indeed that of Fletcher. Charges against suspect Cleotha Abston now include first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping. Our story from Monday follows:

When he was 16, Cleotha Abston abducted Memphis attorney Kemper Durand at gunpoint and drove him around in the trunk of his own car for several hours before forcing him to withdraw money from a gas station ATM. Durand yelled for help when an armed Memphis Housing Authority guard entered, and Abston, who already had a lengthy criminal history at that point, was caught and ended up serving 20 years in the kidnapping. He was released in November 2020—and less than two years later, the now-38-year-old is charged with kidnapping Eliza Fletcher, the Tennessee woman whose abduction while jogging near the University of Memphis last week was caught on surveillance video, the Commercial Appeal reports.

Fletcher, 34, was last seen around 4:20am Friday while out jogging. As shown on surveillance video, police say, "A male exited [a] black GMC Terrain, ran aggressively toward the victim, and then forced the victim Eliza Fletcher into the passenger's side of the vehicle. During this abduction, there appeared to be a struggle," and they believe Fletcher was seriously injured, per the AP. Sandals believed to be Abston's were found at the scene. Fletcher has not yet been found, but late Monday, CNN reported an unidentified body was found about 20 minutes from the scene of the kidnapping. "The identity of this person and the cause of death is unconfirmed at this time," the Memphis Police Department tweeted. "The investigation is ongoing." (More Eliza Fletcher stories.)

Get breaking news in your inbox.
What you need to know, as soon as we know it.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.