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Kidnapped runner Eliza Fletcher’s body found in Tennessee

On Sept. 2, Fletcher went out for a jog at 4 a.m. and did not return home. On Monday, her body was found behind a vacant duplex apartment building

Memphis police released a statement via Twitter on Tuesday morning reporting that they had found the body of Eliza Fletcher, the 34-year-old woman who was abducted while running near the University of Memphis campus on Sept. 2. Her body was found in the rear of a vacant duplex apartment building 10 km from where she was abducted, but the cause and location of her death have not been determined.

According to a police affidavit, Fletcher went jogging at around 4 a.m. on Friday. At 7 a.m., when she had not returned home, her husband reported her missing. A male civilian walking by found her cellphone and a pair of Champion-brand sandals on the street in the area. He turned the items over to Fletcher’s family, who gave them to police.

Fletcher was seen last on local surveillance footage on Friday morning. Surveillance footage also showed a black GMC passing and then waiting for the victim to run by, according to the affidavit. A man exited the car and aggressively ran toward the victim, forcing her into the passenger’s side of the vehicle. The car then sat in a parking lot for around four minutes before driving away.

Cleotha Abston, a 38-year-old previously convicted kidnapper, who was released from prison in 2020 after serving 19 years, was arrested on Saturday and charged with aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, according to Memphis police.

The DNA found on the Champion sandals left at the crime scene was a match for Abston, and surveillance footage also showed him wearing the same sandals the day before the abduction.

After the body was identified as Fletcher’s, Abston was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping.

Fletcher was a mother of two and a preschool teacher in the Memphis area.

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