The body found dumped in a dumpster in Memphis has been identified as Eliza Fletcher, the billionaire heiress and mother of two who went missing on Friday, Tennessee police confirmed on Tuesday. Following the revelation, police also charged Cleotha Abston, 38, with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in the commission of a kidnapping.
The body of the rich heiress was discovered seven miles from where she was last seen. However, authorities have not yet determined the exact cause of Fletcher’s death. At the same time, Deputy Attorney General Steve Mulroy said that investigators had “no reason to think this is anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger.”
Memphis police said on Twitter that investigators identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, 34, a school teacher and granddaughter of a prominent Memphis businessman, after finding her body on Monday evening.
“The deceased victim that was located yesterday in the 1600 block of Victor has been identified as 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher,” the Memphis police tweeted Tuesday morning.
Officer searching for Fletcher found a body dumped in a dumpster around 5:07 pm on Monday, more than 36 hours after Abston, 38, was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping.
Authorities said Abston, who had already served 20 years in prison for a brutal kidnapping, had refused to say where Fletcher was, after being arrested on Saturday. According to a recent Tennessee statute, if found guilty, he would be required to complete the entirety of his sentence.
Authorities stated in a press briefing on Tuesday that the alleged attack seemed random and added that Abston and Fletchers were strangers. Authorities added that it is still too early to pinpoint Fletcher’s final resting place and manner of death.
The body was discovered not far from where Abston, according to authorities, was allegedly spotted Friday morning during Fletcher’s 4 a.m. run cleaning out the GMC Terrain seen in surveillance footage of her dramatic kidnapping.
The suspect was described as acting “weird” and scrubbing his clothes hours after the kidnapping, according to the affidavit, which was signed by his brother, who was accused separately with drug and weapons violations.
Fletcher, the granddaughter of a late Memphis tycoon, was captured on camera by police on Friday morning as she jogged near the University of Memphis. An affidavit later revealed that the GMC she was forced into had been stalking the same spot for at least 24 minutes before she ran through.
The SUV pulled up in front of her, and surveillance video showed a man getting out and approaching Fletcher “aggressively,” shoving her into the passenger seat. “During this abduction, there appeared to be a struggle,” the affidavit said â warning then that Fletcher likely “suffered serious injury.”
Richard Fletcher, Fletcher’s husband, set off the alarm at 7 a.m. After DNA testing on two Champion slides left at the scene, Abston was swiftly identified as the main suspect.
It comes after retired FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer disclosed that Memphis attorney Kemper Durand, Abston’s first abduction victim, worked in the same law firm as Fletcher’s uncle, Michael Keeney, according to NewsNation.
According to court records obtained by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Abston was just 16 years old at the time and already had a lengthy juvenile record involving claims of rape.
She said: “I think this is a very significant clue, and I’m sure certainly that the FBI, the US Marshalls and the TBI is looking closely at this relationship.”
Meanwhile, Fletcher’s family spoke for the first time on Tuesday since her body was discovered. The discovery of Fletcher’s remains, her family claimed on Tuesday, left them in ruins. They urged people to remember “how special” the teacher and mother of two was.
“We are heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss. Liza was a such a joy to so many â her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone who knew her,” the family said in a statement provided to WVLT.
“Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her,” they said of Fletcher.
“We appreciate all the expressions of love and concern we have received,” Fletcher‘s family said in their statement. “We are grateful beyond measure to local, state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible for this horrible crime.”