Suspect in Memphis teacher’s abduction and death to be arraigned on murder charges today

Abston, who was arrested over the weekend on kidnapping charges, faced new charges, including first-degree murder, after authorities announced Monday that a body that belonged to Fletcher was found near an empty Memphis duplex on Monday.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Tuesday, “Losing someone so young and so important is a tragedy in itself, but unimaginable to be accompanied by a senseless act of violence.”

The teacher’s death, which officials say was violent, is still beset with questions as to where and how and why he was killed.

Still, investigators “have no reason to think it was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger,” Mulroy told reporters on Tuesday.

As the investigation unfolds, Fletcher’s community is mourning the junior kindergarten teacher and mother of two.

Eliza "liza"  Fletcher
“She was a delight to all who knew her,” her family said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WHBQ.

“We are saddened and devastated by this senseless loss. Liza was such a joy to so many people – her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone who knew her ,” the statement reads.

“Now is the time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her. We appreciate all the love and concern we have received. We thank the local, state and Grateful beyond measure to federal law enforcement. Their tireless efforts to find Liza and bring the person responsible for this horrific crime to justice,” Fletcher’s family said.

At St Mary’s Episcopal School, faculty and staff began the day in the chapel and lit candles in memory of Fletcher, the school said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

St Mary’s Episcopal School said: “We are saddened by the loss of our dear teacher, colleague and friend Lisa Fletcher.”

Fletcher was the granddaughter of hardware magnate Joseph Orgil III, who died in 2018 at the age of 80. Tennessee-based Orgil has annual sales of $3 billion, according to the company.

Abston, 38, was indicted Tuesday on his initial charges: specifically kidnapping and tampering with evidence. He was being held in the county jail on those charges with a bond set for $510,000.

A judge appointed a public defender to represent him on Tuesday after he told the court he did not have the money to post a lawyer or bond.

Mulroy said Abston is set to be arrested Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder, premeditated murder and manslaughter during the offense of kidnapping.

How came the search of the victim for four days

Fletcher was jogging in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis at around 4 a.m. Friday. Her husband told police on Friday morning that she did not return, officials said in an affidavit, which was initially filed on Sunday and amended on Tuesday.

The affidavit says someone found his phone in an alley that morning, and it was given to a relative of Fletcher, who passed it on to investigators.

Memphis police find unidentified body 3 days after teacher's violent abduction

According to the affidavit, the police found surveillance video of the area in which a black GMC Terrain Pass is visible from it. According to the affidavit, the footage shows a man getting out of the SUV and running towards it “aggressively”.

The affidavit said the SUV remained in the parking lot for about four minutes when both the men were inside and then left.

Police also analyzed a pair of sandals found near the victim’s phone at the abduction site. The DNA found on the shoes matched with Abston’s, the affidavit reads.

Investigators interviewed Abston’s employer, who said he ran the GMC area and verified his phone number. According to the affidavit, investigators examined Abston’s cell phone records, which showed that he was near the abduction site at the time of Fletcher’s abduction.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Task Force found a GMC Terrain near Abston’s home on Saturday morning—and had the same specific damage seen in surveillance footage, and the license plate matched partial plate information obtained from the video, the affidavit read. .

The court document said the task force took Abston into custody on Saturday from near his home.

According to the affidavit, police gathered details from two witnesses, including Abston’s brother, who say they observed strange acts at the brother’s Memphis house after the kidnapping.

According to the affidavit, the two said that Abston cleaned the interior of the GMC area with floor cleaner, and that he washed his clothes in the home’s sink.

Cliotha Ebston, right, appeared in court on Tuesday.

dead body found near empty house; found clothes thrown nearby

According to the affidavit, on Monday, searchers found Fletcher’s body just after 5 p.m., acting on information from an FBI team that analyzed cell phone data.

Using cell phone data, the searchers focused on the area near a crossroads, less than a mile from the brother’s home. According to the affidavit, the team sensed the smell of decomposition coming from an area near an abandoned house, saw vehicle tracks in the grass near the driveway and eventually found a body on the property.

“Visual investigation has shown that the woman fits the description of missing person Eliza Fletcher,” the affidavit said.

Officials said the property was in the 1600 block of Victor Street. It’s about a half-mile drive from the address that officers gave for her brother’s home, a 7.5-mile drive from the alleged abduction site, and about a 15.5-mile drive from Abston’s home.

The affidavit said that a little more than an hour after the body was found and about three tenths of a mile away, a detective found a garbage bag with purple shorts—the ones Fletcher was wearing at the time of the kidnapping. Were.

Officers work on the scene where Eliza Fletcher is believed to have been kidnapped on Friday.

The suspect also faces charges related to Fletcher.

Shelby County Jail records show that Abston is also facing charges unrelated to Fletcher’s case, including identity theft, theft of property worth $1,000 or less, and credit or debit cards of $1,000 or less. Involves fraudulent use/illegal possession.

Those allegations stem from a report of theft filed last week by a woman who reported that someone was using her Cash App card and the card intelligently at gas stations without her knowledge.

CNN has contacted the Shelby County District Attorney and Memphis Police regarding the theft allegations.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Anne Clifford, Jamiel Lynch, Chuck Johnson, Tina Burnside, Hannah Sarisohan and Jennifer Feldman contributed to this report.

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