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Man charged in connection to Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher's disappearance

Man charged in connection with Memphis jogger's disappearance
Man charged in connection with Memphis jogger's disappearance 02:03

Memphis, Tennessee — Police in Tennessee said Sunday that an arrest has been made in connection with the abduction of Eliza Fletcher, a jogger from Memphis who went missing last week.

The Memphis Police Department said 38-year-old Cleotha Abston has been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence in Fletcher's disappearance. A second person was also arrested, but police said that suspect was "currently not believed to be connected" to Fletcher's abduction early Friday.

"This remains to be an active and ongoing investigation," police said on Twitter.

In an affidavit detailing the charges against Abston, an investigator wrote that Fletcher's husband reported her missing on Friday morning after she went for her usual early morning jog and never returned home. A witness found her cellphone and a nearby pair of sandals that morning, and turned them over to a member of the Fletcher family, who gave them to police.

Police found surveillance video showing a black SUV with damage to the back right tail light waiting in the area where the cellphone and sandals were found. In the video, a man exited the SUV, ran toward Fletcher and forced her into the passenger side of the vehicle, the affidavit said. It then sat for four minutes before driving off.

DNA testing on the sandals returned a match for Abston, and investigators determined he was staying at an address belonging to a woman who owned the same type of SUV that was a seen in the surveillance footage. They then traced a phone number connected to Abston to the scene of the crime, according to the affidavit.

U.S. Marshals located the SUV, which had the same damage as the one seen on video, and took Abston into custody on Saturday following a brief chase. Police interviewed the woman with whom Abston was staying, and she said she saw him cleaning the floor of the SUV the previous morning, after Fletcher was abducted, the affidavit said. The woman and another witnesses said they also saw Abston washing his clothes in a sink, and that he was "acting very strangely."

"[Abston] declined to provide investigators with the location of the victim," the affidavit said. 

Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph "Joe" Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist, according to news outlets.

Police said Fletcher is still missing. "MPD Investigators and officers, along with our local and federal partners, continue searching for Mrs. Fletcher," the department said.

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