MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A suspect has been charged in the abduction of Tennessee school teacher Eliza Fletcher, a billionaire’s granddaughter who’s been missing since she went jogging early Friday morning, police said.
Cleotha Abston, 38, was identified as the suspect on Sunday after police found him in possession of the black SUV wanted in connection to Fletcher’s abduction. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, the New York Post reported.
Fletcher, 34, was taken by force and loaded into a dark GMC Terrain while jugging about 4:30 a.m. on Friday. Her water bottle and smashed cell phone were found nearby.
Police said this is the SUV used to kidnap Eliza Fletcher. (Memphis Police Department)
The wife and mother of two remains missing as state and federal law enforcement authorities continue to search for her.
A second man was charged with unrelated offenses as a result of the investigation, but is not believed to be connected to the kidnapping.
Mario Abston, 36, faces a slew of charges, which include possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell fentanyl, possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell heroin, and convicted felon in possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, The Post reported.
Each defendant was booked at the Shelby County Jail early Sunday.
Fletcher teaches at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. Her family offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to her return.
“It’s just a matter of waiting and hoping and praying,” her father-in-law, Richard Fletcher Jr, told The Post. Fletcher said he visited his son, Richard Fletcher III, and they talked “about his wife [being] missing and how hard it is and how unexpected it is and how hard it is to cope with something that seems so random.”
Fletcher is the granddaughter to hardware mogul Joseph “Joe” Orgill III. His privately owned wholesale business, Orgill Inc., is described as “the world’s largest independent hardlines distributor with annual sales of $3 billion,” according to the company’s website. They employ more than 5,500 people.