A body Police said tuesday Eliza Fletcher, 34, was seen on surveillance video being forced into an SUV while jogging near the University of Memphis early Friday morning.The Tennessee woman who was kidnapped last weekend was confirmed Monday.
The suspect arrested in the case, 38-year-old Cleotha Abston, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder for kidnapping, police said. Memphis Police Chief Cheryl Davis told reporters that others could be charged in the case, but no one else was available Tuesday morning.
Davis said it was too early for investigators to determine how and where Fletcher died. Abston did not provide much information to investigators, Davis said.
Steven Mulroy, the district attorney for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said Abston will be arraigned on murder charges Wednesday.
“We have no reason to think this was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger,” Mulroy told reporters.
Abston appeared before a judge earlier Tuesday on the charge, tampering with evidence, theft, identity theft and credit card fraud. Fletcher’s relatives and more than 20 journalists were in the courtroom.
Upston was granted a $510,000 bond. Abston said she couldn’t afford bond and she couldn’t afford a lawyer. General Sessions Judge Louis Montesi appointed a public defender to represent Upston.
US MarshalsPolice made the arrest after finding Fletcher’s DNA on a pair of sandals found near where he was last seen, according to an arrest affidavit.
A vehicle believed to have been used in the kidnapping was linked to a man at the home where Abston was staying.
Late Monday, police Tweeted A body has been found but the man’s identity and cause of death have not been confirmed. Memphis police searched multiple locations with dogs, ATVs and a helicopter throughout the long Labor Day weekend.
Fletcher, a schoolteacher, is the granddaughter of Memphis hardware industrialist and philanthropist Joseph Argyle III. The family has released a video statement asking for help in finding Fletcher and has offered a $50,000 reward for information in the case.
Abston previously kidnapped a prominent Memphis attorney in 2000.. When he was 16, Upston forced Durant into the trunk of his own car at gunpoint. Several hours later, Abston took Durant outside and forced him to go to a Mapco gas station to withdraw money from an ATM.
At the station, an armed Memphis Housing Authority guard entered and Durant screamed for help. Abston fled, but was tracked down and arrested. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, according to court records. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Durant, in a victim impact statement, wrote the business appeal, “I was very lucky to be able to escape Cleotha Upston’s custody. … Had I not escaped, I would have been killed.” reported.
Durant died in 2013, seven years before Upston was released in November 2020 at the age of 36. In the two years since his release, there were no further documented charges against Upston before his arrest Saturday in Shelby County, according to the Business Appeal.