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Body found in hunt for ‘kidnapped’ billionaire heiress

A body was found on Monday evening in the area that was cordoned off by law enforcement in Memphis amid the frantic search for missing mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher. 

Police have not confirmed that the body that was found is that of Fletcher. The missing billionaire heiress vanished while out for a jog around 4:30 am in Memphis. Monday’s discovery is around seven miles from where she was last seen. 

The area being searched is beside the Longview Gardens apartment complex, where kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston’s brother, Mario, lives. 

Just prior to the announcement of the discovery of human remains, a large Memphis Police Department mobile command unit truck was moved into area. Reporters who were covering the search were also asked to move further back from the scene. 

Photos from the scene showed a police helicopter circling above the search. 

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. 

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. 

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

 

The scene showing the search for Fletcher just prior to the announcement of the discovery on Monday evening

The scene showing the search for Fletcher just prior to the announcement of the discovery on Monday evening

 

Eliza Fletcher, pictured, was abducted during a 4:30am jog close to the University of Memphis campus on Friday morning

Eliza Fletcher, pictured, was abducted during a 4:30am jog close to the University of Memphis campus on Friday morning 

 

The tweet from local police announcing the discovery of the remains

The tweet from local police announcing the discovery of the remains 

Authorities arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, on Sunday 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, a black 2013 GMC terrain, 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, 34, 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 have also been searching Martin Luther King Riverside park, as well as a pond within the area, and Pine Hill Park in relation to the missing mother. 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Eliza Fletcher, 34, was last seen about 4.20am on Friday, when she was jogging in Memphis and a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said

 

The last known image of Fletcher shows her jogging early on Friday

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

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

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.

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 and tell them the location of the missing mother.

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

Abston 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. 

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

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 neighbour 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 named Longview Gardens over the weekend.

 

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Police sniffer dogs from the Shelby County Sheriff's office working alongside search teams around a dumpster close to Mario Abston's home. The dumpster was later hauled away by police

Police sniffer dogs from the Shelby County Sheriff’s office working alongside search teams around a dumpster close to Mario Abston’s home. The dumpster was later hauled away by police

 

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

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

 

Wife and mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher remains missing in Memphis with police ramping up the search to find her after making an arrest

Wife and mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher remains missing in Memphis with police ramping up the search to find her after making an arrest

 

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

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

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.

 

Cleotha Abston, 38, was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher's Friday disappearance

Cleotha Abston, 38, was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s Friday disappearance

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 hardlines 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'

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

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 neighbour 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.’

Source: Dailymail

 

 

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