The body of missing jogger Eliza Fletcher is identified in Tennessee

A body found during investigation in the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old woman abducted during a Friday morning run, has been confirmed as that of the missing jogger, authorities announced on Tuesday.

Police in Memphis, Tennessee, announced on Monday that a body was discovered a day after charges have been announced against Cleotha Abston.

Abston, 38, was charged on Sunday with kidnapping and tampering with evidence. Additional charges, including first degree murder and first degree murder in the commission of kidnapping, were filed after Fletcher’s body was discovered.

He was also charged with unrelated offenses of identity theft, theft of property and credit card fraud, police said.

At an arraignment on Tuesday, a judge set his bail at $510,000. Abston told the judge he couldn’t afford a lawyer and was named a public defender. He is due in court on Wednesday to be charged with murder.

Fletcher’s body was found just after 5 p.m. Monday in a vacant duplex on Victor Street, police said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy called the kidnapping “an isolated attack by a stranger.”

Police said around 4:20 a.m. Friday, someone approached Fletcher, a avid runner, kindergarten teacher and mother of twoand forced her into an SUV.

A pair of sandals recovered from the area where she disappeared contained Abston DNA Matchaccording to an affidavit attached to a criminal complaint.

Security video from the scene showed “a black GMC Terrain passing and then waiting for the victim to pass,” according to the document. A man got out of the car, ran towards Fletcher and forced her into the passenger seat, he added.

“During this abduction, there seemed to be a struggle,” the document says. “Champion slip-on sandals were found in this area. The vehicle then remained in the parking lot with the victim inside for approximately four minutes before driving off.

The cause and manner of death have not been disclosed.

Cell records obtained by investigators reportedly determined that Abston’s cellphone was near the site where Fletcher was forced into the vehicle.

Officers arrested Abston on Saturday after finding the GMC Terrain with a matching license plate number in a parking lot near Abston’s residence, according to the affidavit.

Abston had previously been sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping a man named Kemper Durand on May 26, 2000. Abston was a teenager at the time.

Court documents say Abston kidnapped Durand at gunpoint and forced him into the trunk of a car. He then forced Durand to withdraw cash from an ATM. Durand escaped when he caught the attention of a Memphis Housing Authority guard while withdrawing the money.

In a victim impact statement, Durand said he felt “extremely lucky to have been able to escape the custody of Cleotha Abston.”

“I had been taken from the trunk of my car, where he and his co-accused had placed me for several hours, and made to go to the Mapco station. The purpose was that I had to use my ATM card to obtain money for Cleotha Abston. It’s a great chance that an armed, uniformed guard from the Memphis Housing Authority walked into the Mapco station,” he wrote in the statement. “It is very likely that I would have been killed if I had not escaped.”

Durand, a criminal lawyer who died in 2013said he thought Abston felt “absolutely no remorse”.

Court documents also show Abston had an extensive criminal record dating back to 1995. The charges included robbery, aggravated assault, evading arrest and a 1998 rape charge.

Abston was released from the Tennessee Corrections Department in November 2020.

Mario Abston, 36, the brother of Cleotha Abston, was also arrested, but he does not appear to be connected to Fletcher’s kidnapping, authorities said. He was charged with drug and firearms offences, police tweeted.

Phil Health, Kurt Chirbas, Hyder Abbassi, Nicole Duarte , Mirna Al Sharif and Marlene Lenthang contributed.

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