Eliza Fletcher latest: ‘Heartbroken’ family of Memphis heiress speaks out as Cleotha Abston charged with murder

Man appears in court charged with murder of heiress Eliza Fletcher

The “heartbroken” family of murdered Memphis heiress Eliza Fletcher have issued a statement saying they are devastated by her “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,” the statement, shared by Newstalk 989lines.

Ms Fletcher, 34-year-old mother of two and granddaughter of billionaire Joseph Orgill III, was snatched while out jogging near the University of Memphis campus and forced into an SUV at 4am on Friday.

Her body was recovered on Monday, four days after her abduction from a vacant duplex after a series of searches over the Labor Day weekend.

Police have charged Cleotha Abston with the kidnapping and killing of the business heiress. He was jailed on Saturday in connection with her abduction after police detected his DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Fletcher had last been seen.

“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,” the family statement said.

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Timeline of events in the abduction and murder of the Memphis heiress

Memphis police confirmed on Tuesday morning that a body found during an “intensive” city-wide search was positively identified as missing mother of two Eliza Fletcher.

Cleotha Abston has been charged with her murder and abduction.

Here is a timeline of events in the case.

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Video emerges of Eliza Fletcher singing to her students and playing with her dog, as the alleged killer is charged

Video has surfaced of Eliza Fletcherthe Tennessee kindergarten teacher who was kidnapped and killed last week, recording a song for her students.

In the clip, Fletcher, a junior teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal school in Memphissings “This Little Light of Mine” and tells students about her dog.

The video, which has been viewed more than 530,000 times on Twitter, comes from Fletcher’s YouTube channel.

Read the details in this report from Josh Marcus:

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Everything we know about the suspect in the kidnapping of Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher

Cleotha Abston, who has been charged with the abduction and murder of heiress Eliza Fletcher, spent 20 years in prison for kidnapping and robbery before being released in 2020.

Here’s everything we know about Mr Abston.

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Video footage shows murder suspect Cleotha Abston cleaning SUV after Eliza Fletcher’s murder

Grainy video footage that purportedly shows murder-accused Cleotha Abston cleaning a dark SUV in the hours after Eliza Fletcher was abducted has been obtained by Memphis news network WREG.

WREG says the footage was shot outside the home of Mr Abston’s brother Mario Abston on Friday morning, around the time police were notified that Ms. Fletcher was missing.

The 95 second clip shows Mr. Abston returning to the apartment at Longview Garden, South Memphis in a GMC Terrain at 7.57am in the morning, the station reports. He parks the vehicle and can then be seen carrying materials to the car from an apartment block.

My colleague Bevan Hurley has more:

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Full report: Body is confirmed to be missing Memphis heiress Eliza Fletcher

Memphis Police made the tragic announcement on Tuesday morning, just hours after human remains were discovered less than a mile from the home of the brother of her alleged killer Cleotha Abston.

Rachel Sharp has the story.

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Eliza Fletcher’s school says it is ‘heartbroken’ over murder of ‘beloved teacher’

St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis issued a statement to say it was “heartbroken” after its teacher Eliza Fletcher’s death was confirmed on Tuesday morning.

“We are heartbroken at the loss of our beloved teacher, colleague, and friend Liza Fletcher,” the school said on Twitter.

“Our hearts are with the Fletcher, Orgill, and Wellford families.”

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Everything we know about the kidnapping of Memphis teacher as body found

The desperate search for missing Memphis teacher and business heiress Eliza Fletcher reached a tragic conclusion as police discovered a body shortly after a suspect was arrested in her kidnapping.

Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother-of-two, was snatched while on an early morning jog near the University of Memphis campus on Friday (September 2).

The following day, 38-year-old Cleotha Abston, a convicted kidnapper who was released from prison in 2020 after serving 19 years, was arrested on suspicion of her abduction.

On Monday afternoon, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) announced it had found a body later confirmed to be Ms. Fletcher. Abston was subsequently hit with new murder charges.

Here’s everything we know about the case.

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Eliza Fletcher’s family breaks silence on ‘senseless’ killing of Memphis heiress

“Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her,” the family of Eliza Fletcher said in a statement.

Rachel Sharp has the full story.

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Everything we know about the kidnapping of Memphis teacher as body found

The desperate search for missing Memphis teacher and business heiress Eliza Fletcher reached a tragic conclusion as police discovered a body shortly after a suspect was arrested in her kidnapping.

Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother-of-two, was snatched while on an early morning jog near the University of Memphis campus on Friday (September 2).

The following day, 38-year-old Cleotha Abston, a convicted kidnapper who was released from prison in 2020 after serving 19 years, was arrested on suspicion of her abduction.

On Monday afternoon, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) announced it had found a body later confirmed to be Ms. Fletcher. Abston was subsequently hit with new murder charges.

Here’s everything we know about the case.

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Police reveal new details on how they located Eliza Fletcher’s body

Police have asked that murder suspect Cleotha Abston be held without bond, according to an amended police affidavit filed on Tuesday.

The court filing also contains new details about how law enforcement located Eliza Fletcher’s body.

According to the affidavit, officers from the Memphis Police Department, and federal and state partners searching for Ms Fletcher noticed vehicle tracks in tall grass leading to a vacant apartment at 1666 Victor St at 5.07pm on Monday.

A search and rescue officer smelled an “odor of decay” and spotted a set of footprints in the rear driveway of the premises. He then saw an “unresponsive female” lying on the ground.

The person, who matched a description of Ms Fletcher, was pronounced dead by the medical examiner shortly afterwards, according to the court document.

Police found a pair of purple Lululemon running shorts that were consistent with a pair Ms. Fletcher was wearing when she disappeared discarded in a trash bag nearby.

Surveillance footage showed Mr Abston’s black GMC Terrain nearby between 5.48am and 5.52am, the affidavit states.

Cleotha Abston appears for his arraignment on Tuesday morning

(AP)

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