Police have arrested a man with connections to the kidnapping of an heiress to a multi-billion dollar hardware company, according to officials on Sunday.
Eliza Fletcher, 34, was abducted while jogging near the campus of the University of Memphis. In surveillance footage found at the scene, Fletcher is seen being shoved into the back of a dark SUV.
Fletcher’s grandfather was Joseph Orgill III, the late founder of Orgill Inc which was worth roughly $3 billion in 2020.
She is also a beloved Kindergarten teacher, and a married mother of two.
Currently, the FBI has teamed up with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to find Eliza Fletcher.
Reportedly, she was taken on Friday morning after being forced into a vehicle on a residential street. At the scene, her water bottle and now-smashed cell phone lay on the ground.
The school where Fletcher used to work named St. Mary’s Episcopal School released a statement by Principal Albert Throckmorton.
“We have not told our younger students about Mrs. Fletcher. We are supporting the old students as they learn of this news.”
Now, Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping alongside tampering with evidence in this case. Abston has already had run-ins with the law, including serving 20 years in prison for a different kidnapping charge.
He is also currently being charged with crimes in a separate case, including identity theft, in an unrelated matter. Abston is being held on a bond set at $500,000
According to FoxNews, Abston was caught after brother and one other witness saw him cleaning out the inside of his SUV. This vehicle fit the description of the one that police had named a “vehicle of interest.”
According to the witnesses in the affidavit, Abston was seen “washing his clothes in the sink of the house,” while he acted “strange”.
Police said that Eliza Fletcher fought back against her attacker and suffered “serious injury” while she “left evidence e.g. blood, in the vehicle that the Defendant cleaned.”
Police ran lab tests on the vehicle, and were able to match Abston’s DNA to the crime by using a pair of Champion flip-flops that remained at the crime scene.
Meanwhile, in South Memphis, a female body was found and is waiting for the police to identify.
The body was found yesterday at the same location where Abston was seen cleaning the vehicle by witnesses.
Many are awaiting the result of this identification, as her community and family continue to hope for the best in this case.
The family has offered a $50,000 reward for any information that leads to further information in this case.
In a statement, the Fletcher family said “more than anything we want to see Eliza return home safely.”
The family also wanted to “thank everyone, for their prayers and outpouring of support.”
“Eliza has has touched the hearts of many people, and it shows,” added the family in their minute long video addressing the situation.
Residents of Memphis, Tennessee are keeping Eliza Fletcher in their prayers as everyone awaits more details in this case.
Image from Shelby Country Sheriff’s Office
"*" indicates required fields