Body found in hunt for 'kidnapped' billionaire heiress

Body found in hunt for ‘kidnapped’ billionaire heiress: Large police presence as helicopter circles around heavily wooded area just a hundred yards away from suspect’s brother’s house

  • A body has been found in the search for kidnapped mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher in Memphis, Tennessee
  • The human remains were located close to the home of kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston’s brother, Mario 
  • Following Fletcher’s disappearance, Cleotha was seen by neighbors washing the carpets of his 2013 GMC Terrain 
  • Cleotha Abston, 38, is charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s disappearance 
  • The suspect is due to make his first court appearance on Tuesday and is being held at Shelby County Jail on a $500,000 bond 
  • Mario Abston is also been taken into custody on charges of possession with intent sell heroin and fentanyl as well as a gun offense
  • Police have been searching parks and a pond in the hunt for the missing kindergarten teacher over the weekend
  • Fletcher, 34, was abducted while jogging near the University of Memphis at around 4:30am on Friday morning 
  • The mother-of-two is the granddaughter of the founder of prosperous hardware company Orgill, and her family has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to her safe return 

A body has been found in the frantic search for missing mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher – as a police helicopter and officers on the ground desperately swooped a heavily wooded area in Memphis, Tennessee.

Police have not confirmed that the body that was found is that of Fletcher. The missing billionaire heiress vanished while out for a jog around 4:30 am in Memphis. Monday’s discovery is around seven miles from where she was last seen. 

The area being searched is just a hundred yards from the Longview Gardens apartment complex – where kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston’s brother, Mario, lives. 

Just prior to the announcement of the discovery of human remains, a large Memphis Police Department mobile command unit truck was moved into area. Reporters who were covering the search were also asked to move further back from the scene. 

Photos from the scene showed a police helicopter circling above the search. Horrified neighbors gathered around the crime scene as the gruesome discovery was made. 

‘It’s emotional, it really hurts,’ April Jackson, 30, told at 7:30 pm, with the body yet to be removed.

‘That could have been anybody out jogging that morning, a student, anyone. ‘And he was just released two years ago for another abduction and he gets out and does it again,’ she said. 

‘It makes me sick.’ She was out yesterday offering to aid the search, when police and a bloodhound were out in the area, within a couple hundred yards of the body. 

On Sunday, a neighbor of Mario Abston’s told exclusively that she had seen the suspect at his brother’s house nearly every day for the last month. 

In the criminal complaint against Cleotha, witnesses were quoted as saying they saw the suspect at his brother’s home behaving strangely and washing the carpet of this 2013 GMC Terrain. 

The violent felon, accused of snatching billionaire heiress Eliza, had stalked the area she went missing from while jogging for almost 30 minutes before her abduction.

Eliza Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped after being forced into a black SUV on Friday. The driver of that SUV, Cleotha Abston, was arrested over the weekend

A map illustrating the scale of the citywide search for Eliza Fletcher in Memphis 

Suspect Cleotha Abston, pictured here shortly after his release from prison in 2020, is being held on a $500,000 bond in relation to kidnapping charges

The scene showing the search for Fletcher just prior to the announcement of the discovery on Monday evening

Members of the Memphis Police Department’s Auto Theft Task Force shown at the site of the search 

The tweet from local police announcing the discovery of the remains

Authorities arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, on Sunday before charging him with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s disappearance on September 2.

Officers have footage of the vehicle used in the kidnapping in the same area 24 minutes before the mother-of-two was taken at 4:20am in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Surveillance footage obtained by police, which has not been released, show a man running ‘aggressively’ towards Fletcher and forcing her into the passenger side of the vehicle.

The pair struggled, and the car then sat in the parking lot for four minutes with Fletcher inside before driving off to an unknown location.

Abston also had new charges filed against him that include identity theft, theft of property and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit card of $1000 or less.

Shortly before the discovery of the remains, it emerged that Abston has priors for aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon and rape, all while he was a juvenile, according to a new report from the Commercial Appeal.  

Officers were previously searching Martin Luther King Riverside park, as well as a pond within the area, and Pine Hill Park in relation to the missing mother. 

Fletcher was last seen about 4.20am on Friday, when she was jogging (right) in Memphis and a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said

A Memphis Police Department mobile command unit remained in the area as night fell 

Authorities have not confirmed that the remains that were found are those of Eliza Fletcher

A member of the Memphis Police Department collects events as police continue to look for clues in the search for Fletcher

Cleotha Abston, 38, was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s Friday disappearance

Abston’s arrest comes just over two years after her was released from prison where he served 20 years for the kidnapping and robbery of lawyer Kemper Durand in Memphis in May 2000.

He also appeared in juvenile court records in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 for charges including theft, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, and rape. 

Police tracked him down after finding his DNA on Champion sliders that were left behind during the struggle with Fletcher, as well as her cell phone and water bottle.

His bail has been set at $500,000, and it is understood that he is refusing to cooperate with police.

Police believe that Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher, suffered ‘serious injury’ at the hands of Abston and that blood was left in the vehicle.

His brother, Mario Abston, 36, was also arrested on Saturday after offices searched his home when his brother was spotted acting ‘suspiciously’ by neighbors.

Officers found a semi-automatic handgun, a scale with a bag of heroin and fentanyl, and he was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and possession of controlled substances.

Abston told police that his brother had been cleaning the interior of his GMC Terrain with floor cleaner, as well as washing his clothes in the sink of the house.

Another neighbor confirmed that Abston was acting ‘very strange’, and police determined that his phone pinged near to where Fletcher was taken.

Officers removed a dumpster close to Abston’s brothers low-income apartment complex over the weekend.

Missing mother Eliza Fletcher pictured with her husband Richie and their two children

Police were seen searching dumpsters outside of a McDonald’s restaurant along South Perkins Street in the city

This is the SUV cops say abducted Fletcher, identified as a dark-colored GMC Terrain which was discovered on Saturday

Memphis Police Department officers searching for clues in the ground close to the home of Cleotha Abston’s brother’s home

Authorities went to Abston’s last known address and found the same black SUV with the damaged taillight. The affidavit said Abston was standing in the doorway when police arrived and that he began to flee, but was soon apprehended.

Abston still has not said where Fletcher is or what he did to her. The affidavit said evidence, including blood, found in Abston’s car led them to believe Fletcher suffered a ‘serious injury.’

‘The investigation into the abduction of Eliza Fletcher is still active and ongoing. Investigators are continuing the search and following all leads,’ police said in a statement on Sunday after announcing Abston’s arrest.

Police were also seen searching dumpsters outside of a McDonald’s restaurant in Memphis on Saturday evening as they searched for the kindergarten teacher and mother.

After the discovery of the car, Fletcher’s family, her father, Beasley, mother, Adele, brother Gill and her husband appeared on camera alongside their lawyer, Mike Keeney.

They have offered a $50,000 reward for any information that results in Fletcher being brought home safely.

In the statement, Keeney thanked the law enforcement for their search efforts and stated: ‘We believe someone knows what happened and can help.’ 

At this station, Fletcher’s husband became overcome with emotion.

Fletcher, a fitness fanatic who would regularly jog the same route, had her phone hurled to the ground and smashed during the crime. 

The mother-of-two is described at being 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink jogging top and purple running shorts. 

The abducted woman is the granddaughter of hardware magnate Joseph ‘Joe’ Orgill III who died in 2018. 

Fletcher’s mother, Adele, is Orgill’s daughter. Their hardware wholesale family business, Orgill Inc., does $3 billion in annual sales, according to the company’s website.

The description of the company on the website calls Orgill ‘the world’s largest independent hardline distributor with annual sales of $3 billion.’ The company is privately owned.

Abston still has not said where Fletcher is or what he did to her. The affidavit said evidence, including blood, found in Abston’s car led them to believe Fletcher suffered a ‘serious injury’

A different resident posted this photo showing members of the Memphis Police Department SWAT Team preparing for a raid in the complex in the search for Eliza Fletcher

More than 5,500 people are employed by the company.  

On Friday, police had searched a park near the site where a wealthy heiress was abducted and forced into vehicle, as they search for clues in the baffling case.

A neighbor described Abston as a ‘pervert,’ who once snuck up behind her and propositioned her for sex.

He did the same to other women in the complex, and at times would sit in his black SUV gawking at women walking by or sitting on stoops.

Another neighbor, Latoya, 35, said the suspect also propositioned her and her 20-year-old niece earlier this year.

Latoya told ‘He kept waving me over to him and was like. ‘I’ve got $100.

‘He tried to catch my niece too, tried to get her to come into the apartment with him.

‘As far as I know, nobody here have sex with him,’ she said. ‘He creepy, he really creepy.’

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