As investigators continue their search for a woman abducted Friday morning, a break in the case may have come Saturday after locating a man believed to be in connection with the kidnapping.
Eliza Fletcher, 34, is a kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Tenn., and a mother of two. Turns out, she is also a billionaire heiress. Fletcher is the granddaughter of Joseph Orgill III, who ran the wholesale hardware business Orgill Inc. which is “the world’s largest independent hardlines distributor with annual sales of $3 billion,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Shortly after 4 a.m. Friday, Fletcher was abducted while jogging in the vicinity of the University of Memphis.
Fox 13 detailed the progress of the investigation and reported that after the Memphis Police Department were dispatched to aid university police in missing person search shortly before 8 a.m., by 11:30 p.m. the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) had managed to identify the vehicle used in the abduction as a GMC Terrain.
We have updated this poster to include new information about the vehicle being sought…a dark-colored GMC Terrain. pic.twitter.com/z6ZlU2sTuJ
— Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (@TBInvestigation) September 3, 2022
An “unknown individual approached her” and reportedly forced her into an SUV” according to Memphis Police, who have provided updates to the ongoing investigation as they have become available. Saturday afternoon they explained the “vehicle of interest” had been located and 38-year-old Cleotha Abston who had occupied the vehicle was detained and “charged with Especially Aggravated Kidnapping and Tampering with Evidence.”
UPDATE: The individual who was detained has been officially charged in connection with the abduction of Eliza Fletcher. At this point in the investigation, Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with Especially Aggravated Kidnapping and Tampering with Evidence.
— Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) September 4, 2022
Another individual, 36-year-old Mario Abston, was also arrested when the vehicle was located, but he was “not believed to be connected to Fletcher’s abduction” and instead the convicted felon was charged with drug and weapons offenses including “possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell” pertaining to heroin and fentanyl.
Police were seen searching a dumpster outside of a McDonald’s restaurant in Memphis on Saturday evening that is believed to be related to the kidnapping, according to KWAM.
“They were knocking on doors of houses with cameras to see if we had anything helpful on our Ring,” a nearby resident told the radio station. “They told us to review our footage from yesterday 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and send them anything valuable via a phone number they left with us.”
Investigators were also seen at the home of the mother and her husband Richard Fletcher III, and ABC 24’s Ian Ripple documented how a Jeep Grand Wagoneer had been towed away from the property in addition to a computer and lawn shears being tagged as evidence.
Police are towing this vehicle from the home in the investigation of Eliza Fletcher's abduction. We also saw a computer and lawn shears tagged as evidence and removed from the home. @ABC24Memphis https://t.co/CUPs4BTuks pic.twitter.com/ngNMfjFUCZ
— Ian Ripple (@Ripple1026) September 3, 2022
Her family has offered a $50,000 reward for information that could aid in the investigation and Richard Fletcher Jr, father-in-law to the abducted school teacher, told the New York Post, “It’s just a matter of waiting and hoping and praying.”
The school where she works also released a statement on the abduction which read in part, “It is with a heavy heart that I share that our JK Teacher Liz Fletcher has been reported kidnapped early this morning near The University of Memphis,” Head of School Albert Throckmorton wrote.
“We join the Fletcher and Wellford families in praying for Liza’s safety,” he continued and later concluded, “Thank you for your continued support and prayers.”
Fletcher was last seen wearing a pink jogging top and blue shorts. She is said to be 5’6″ tall and approximately 137 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. Police have encouraged anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers at 901-528-CASH as, at the time of this posting, she remained missing.
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