Disturbing details emerge in the death of jogger Eliza Fletcher as the suspect is arraigned on murder charges


Police were searching near a vacant home in Memphis, Tennessee, when they discovered Eliza Fletcher’s body and a discarded garbage bag containing what appears to be her running shorts.

The disturbing details were included in an amended affidavit filed Tuesday in a Shelby County criminal court, days after police arrested Cleotha Abston in Fletcher’s abduction.

Eliza Fletcher.Memphis Police Dept.

Abston, 38, was initially charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence. First-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping were added after Fletcher’s body was found. He was arraigned Tuesday on the charges of kidnapping and tampering with evidence where a judge ordered him to be held on a $510,000 bond.

On Wednesday, during another arrangement on the murder charges, the judge revoked Abston’s bond.

Police were alerted to Fletcher’s disappearance around 7 a.m. Friday after Richard Fletcher told officers that his wife had not returned home from her regular 4 a.m. jog, the affidavit states.

Fletcher, an avid runner, kindergarten teacher and mother of two, was running near the University of Memphis when she disappeared. Security video showed “a black GMC Terrain passing and then waiting for the victim to run by,” according to a criminal complaint.

A man then exited the vehicle, ran toward Fletcher and forced her into the passenger’s seat, the complaint stated. Investigators determined that Abston was the man in the vehicle after his DNA was found on a pair of slide sandals at the scene. His phone also placed him in the area at the time Fletcher was abducted, authorities have said.

Image: Cleotha Abston
Cleotha Abston during his arraignment on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Memphis, Tenn. Mark Weber / Daily Memphian via AP

According to the affidavit, a witness told police that she saw Abston outside his brother’s apartment cleaning the SUV “with floor cleaner.” The witness said it looked like Abston “was behaving oddly.”

Abston’s brother also told police that he saw him cleaning the car and “washing his clothes in the sink of the house,” the affidavit states. The brother said Abston appeared to be “acting very strange.”

In surveillance video obtained by local news station WREG, Abston is seen arriving at the Longview Garden apartments around 7:57 a.m. Friday. In the footage, he sits in the car for a while before going inside his brother’s apartment. He leaves the apartment and spends roughly an hour at the passenger side of the car, according to the news station.

Abston was arrested Saturday after investigators found the SUV in a parking lot by his residence. The affidavit says that Abston refused to tell investigators where Fletcher was.

Her body was located as police were searching an area near Victor Street in Memphis. According to the affidavit, police saw vehicle tracks near the driveway of a home and “smelled an odor of decay.”

Officers walked to the back of the home and found Fletcher lying unconscious on the ground, the affidavit says.

Police continued to search the area and located a trash bag containing purple Lululemon running shorts that looked like “the ones Eliza Fletcher was last seen wearing,” according to the affidavit.

In a statement Tuesday, Fletcher’s family said they were “heartbroken” over the loss.

“Liza was such a joy to so many — her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone who knew her,” they said. “Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her.”



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