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Eliza Fletcher: Suspect in kidnap of jogging heiress ‘left sandals at scene of abduction’

Fletcher was abducted near her home in Memphis

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 05 September 2022 11:26 BST
Eliza Fletcher was reported missing after she went for an early morning jog
Eliza Fletcher was reported missing after she went for an early morning jog (Memphis Police Department)

The suspect accused of abducting a 34-year-old teacher in Tennessee was identified with the help of DNA from sandals found nearby.

Eliza Fletcher, a mother of two and the granddaughter to billionaire Joseph Orgill III, was abducted during a 4am jog in her neighbourhood near the University of Memphis campus on Friday.

The Memphis police have arrested 38-year-old Cleotha “Pookie” Abston and charged him with “aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence”.

Ms Fletcher, however, has still not been found.

“This remains to be an active and ongoing investigation,” police said in a statement.

According to an affidavit, a pair of Champion slide sandals that were recovered near the spot of Ms Fletcher’s disappearance were laced with the suspect's DNA. Her phone was also found with the sandals.

Authorities reportedly discovered surveillance footage of the suspect wearing the same pair of sandals a day before.

“During this abduction, there appeared to be a struggle,” according to an affidavit seen by NBC News.

“The Champion slides sandals were found in this area. The vehicle then sat in the parking lot with the victim inside for approximately four minutes before it drove off.”

Authorities said the evidence suggests Ms Fletcher “suffered serious injury" due to the violent nature of the crime and “left evidence” such as “blood in the vehicle that the defendant cleaned”.

Eliza Fletcher was last seen wearing a pink running top, purple running shorts (Memphis Police Department)

On Friday around 7am, the University of Memphis Police called the Memphis police to assist in a missing person report after they were made aware that Ms Fletcher had been kidnapped after encountering a brief struggle with the man.

Later in the day, officers released blurry photos of the car they suspect was used to abduct Ms Fletcher. A City Watch Alert was deployed shortly after she was declared missing.

The Memphis police on Sunday announced that the vehicle of interest — a black SUV — in her disappearance had been found and that the male occupying the vehicle had been detained.

Ms Fletcher was last seen wearing a pink running top and purple shorts. Her family is offering $50,000 for her safe return.

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