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Memphis police: Arrest made in jogger's disappearance

Eliza Fletcher
Posted at 1:30 PM, Sep 04, 2022

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An arrest has been made in the abduction of a jogger in Tennessee, and though she hasn't been found, police said they believe she suffered serious injuries.

The Memphis Police Department said 38-year-old Cleotha Abston has been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence in the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher of Memphis.

A second person was also arrested, but police said that suspect was "currently not believed to be connected" to Fletcher's abduction early Friday.

"This remains to be an active and ongoing investigation," police said via Twitter.

Authorities say Fletcher, 34, was forced into a vehicle while she was jogging near the University of Memphis campus around 4 a.m. She was jogging when a man approached her and forced her into a dark-colored GMC Terrain vehicle after a brief struggle. Fletcher was reported missing when she did not return home.

Police located surveillance video of the abduction. Abston was arrested after police matched a pair of sandals found near the scene to him using DNA testing, according to a Memphis police arrest affidavit. Police also linked the vehicle to a person living at a residence where Abston was staying. At around 10:45 a.m. Saturday, a U.S. Marshals task force went to the address and saw the vehicle and Abston standing in the doorway. He attempted to flee but was captured, according to the affidavit.

A witness told police that a few hours after the Friday abduction at a different home, they saw Abston "cleaning the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner" and he was "behaving oddly."

Abston would not tell police where to find Fletcher, the affidavit said. Police said the physical evidence and facts of the case lead them to believe Fletcher "suffered serious injury."

Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph "Joe" Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist, according to news outlets. The family released a video statement on Saturday asking for help in finding Fletcher.

"We believe someone knows what happened, and can help," Fletcher's uncle said in the video.