Eliza Fletcher, a Memphis kindergarten teacher and 34-year-old mother known as Liza to her loved ones, was abducted Friday while she was out for an early morning run.

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) held a press conference Tuesday to address the suspect, who has now been charged with first degree murder, and the status of the case. 

Here's a timeline of events surrounding her disappearance:

Sept. 2 at 4 a.m.

Fletcher, an avid runner who has qualified for the Boston Marathon, goes for a run around 4 a.m. She takes her usual route near the University of Memphis, according to authorities.


While running down a stretch of Central Avenue around 4:20 a.m., she is "abducted and forced into" a dark-colored GMC Terrain.

According to an affidavit, investigators reviewed video surveillance from near 3876 Central Ave., which showed the GMC Terrain "passing and then waiting for the victim to run by."

Police say that a surveillance camera captured the same car in the area of the abduction 24 minutes before Eliza Fletcher was taken.

A male, later identified as Cleotha Abston, 38, then "ran aggressively" toward Fletcher and forced her into the passenger side of the SUV, court documents say.

Police also said that there "appeared to be a struggle" when Fletcher was pulled into the car.

Court documents state that the GMC Terrain sat in a nearby parking lot for four minutes with Eliza Fletcher inside before driving off.


Eliza Fletcher was kidnapped in Memphis while jogging

Authorities are offering a $50,000 reward to help find mother kidnapped while jogging. (Memphis Police Department/TBI)

Sept. 2 at 6:45 a.m.

Court documents state that a resident was riding his bike on Central Avenue and "found the victim's cellphone as well as a pair of Champion slides sandals laying in the street in the same area."

The resident gave these items to one of Eliza Fletcher's family members, who then turned them over to the police.

The Champion slides sandals were sent to a lab for DNA testing by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Sept. 2 at 7:45 a.m.

MPD receive two phone calls — one from Fletcher's husband, Richard Fletcher III, who reported her missing after she did not come home from her run — and one from the University of Memphis.


Police find some of Fletcher's belongings at the scene on Central Avenue. They are also told that a male approached Fletcher and forced her into a dark SUV after a struggle. 

Sept. 2, afternoon

MPD says in a Friday afternoon news briefing that the department is not aware of any connection between Fletcher's abduction and reports from the start of the semester that someone had been harassing members of the University of Memphis women's cross-country team as they ran in the area.

DNA samplings from the Champion slide sandals found a link to Cleotha Abston, who was named a person of interest in the Eliza Fletcher abduction case.

Using this information, investigators were able to obtain video surveillance from a Malco Theatres location on North Germantown Parkway that allegedly showed Abston wearing the Champion slides sandals.

Investigators also obtained cellphone records for Abston, which placed him near 3876 Central Ave. at the time that Eliza Fletcher was forced into the GMC Terrain, court records state.

Later on, authorities took a white Jeep Grand Wagoneer from in front of Fletcher's home, according to FOX 13 Memphis.

Sept. 3

On Saturday at 10:45 a.m., members of the U.S. Marshals Service located the GMC Terrain in a parking lot in the 5700 block of Waterstone Oak Way, where Abston lives, according to police, who then said that a male matching the description of the suspect was spotted.

He attempted to flee the area, but officials took him into custody.

Police said that two people, including Abston's brother, Mario, told officers that they had seen the suspect cleaning the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner, adding that he was washing clothes in the sink.

Mario Abston told police that his brother was acting "strange."

After the Memphis Police Department took Cleotha Abston into custody, he declined to tell investigators where Eliza Fletcher is.

Police also say that Eliza Fletcher "suffered serious injury" and "left evidence, e.g., blood, in the vehicle that the Defendant cleaned."

Sept. 4

Law enforcement officials were seen throughout Memphis on Sunday and conducted searches at "various" locations in the search for Eliza Fletcher, according to a Memphis Police Department spokesperson.

Eliza Fletcher is described as a White woman with blonde hair and green eyes. She is about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs around 137 pounds. She was wearing a pink athletic top and purple running shorts with her hair pulled up and sporting a matching headband.

Her family is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to her being found.

Anyone with information related to the abduction is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH (2274).

Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. ET

Cleotha Abston Henderson in court

Cleotha Abston appears before a judge in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sept. 6, 2022. (Adam Saves for Fox News Digital)

Accused killer Cleotha Abston appears before a judge around 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, when prosecutors say they updated his charges to include murder, premeditated murder and murder in perpetration of kidnapping. He wears a green jail-issued jumpsuit, a white undershirt and a face mask.

Abston court appearance takes place just minutes after the Memphis Police Department confirm that the body found near the crime scene late Sunday had been positively identified as missing teacher and young mother Eliza Fletcher.

Prior to Tuesday’s new allegations, Abston was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with/fabricating evidence. Late Sunday, officials added three more charges against Abston: identity theft, theft of property of $1,000 or less, and illegal possession of a credit or debit card of $1,000 or less, records show.

Bail was previously listed as being set at $510,000. It was not immediately clear if the bail amount would increase further in light of the new charge.

Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy announces that his office will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday in light of the latest developments related to Eliza Fletcher's abduction and murder. He will be joined by representatives from the Memphis Police Department, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Sept. 6 at 11:30 a.m. ET

DA Steve Mulroy speaking to reporters

Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy speaks to reporters on Sept. 6, 2022, in Memphis, Tennessee. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

Memphis police officials announce that they discovered the remains of a body later determined to be Eliza Fletcher at about 5:07 p.m. Monday in the "rear of a vacant duplex apartment" near the area where she was abducted.

Mulroy says officials have "no reason to think this was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger."


Officials say it's too early to determine the place and method of Fletcher's death. A police department spokesperson does not comment when asked about any significance or connection between Abston and the vacant building near where Fletcher was found.

Officials do not divulge a possible motive. Investigators say they "have not gotten very much information" from the suspect, who will be arraigned on Wednesday morning on the new charges.

Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. ET

The family of Eliza Fletcher releases a statement to Fox News Digital in which they ask to have time "to grieve in privacy without outside intrusion during this painful time."

"We are heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss. Liza was a such a joy to so many - her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone who knew her.

"Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her. We appreciate all the expressions of love and concern we have received. 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."

Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. ET

Cleotha Abston in court talking to his attorney

Murder suspect Cleotha Abston appears in court at Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis Tennessee, Wednesday, September 7, 2022. Abston is charged with the murder of Memphis mother-of-two, Eliza Fletcher. He is represented by appointed council, Jennifer Case. He has been ordered held without bond by Judge Louis Montesi. (Matt Symons/Fox News Digital)

Abston appears in a Tennessee court for a 10 a.m. ET arraignment on charges of first-degree murder, premeditated murder and murder in perpetration of kidnapping. 


He wears a green-colored, jail-issued jumpsuit, a white undershirt, a face mask and handcuffs, with his hands behind his back. He largely looks straight ahead with squared shoulders throughout the appearance. His attorney, Jennifer Case, can be seen speaking with him at length before Wednesday's arraignment begins.


He is ordered held without bond, and to appear in court again on Thursday at 9 a.m. local time, 10 a.m. ET. 

A judge orders that Abston's name should be changed in records to Cleotha Henderson, per the defendant's request. 

Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. ET

Henderson appears in court for another hearing in front of Judge Louis J. Montesi. Much like the previous days, Henderson is wearing a dark face mask, a green jail-issued jumpsuit and a white undershirt. He is not handcuffed.

He remains silent and slouched and, at times, leans against the railing that separates him from the rest of the courtroom.

Montesi rules that Jennifer Case can proceed as Henderson's public defender, despite Case's concern that there is a conflict of interest.

The conflict, she unsuccessfully argues, is that her office had represented Henderson in a criminal matter in the early 2000s.

Case also requests a gag order in the case, noting in making her argument that Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis had called her client a "dangerous predator." Prosecutors argue the public should continue to be informed about this case.

Henderson will be back in court on September 19. He will remain held without bond in the meantime.

Mario Abston wears a black jumpssuit, black mask while standing in front of a wooden paneled wall

Images captured exclusively by Fox News Digital show Mario Abston, the brother of accused kidnapper and killer Cleotha Henderson, in court on Sept. 8, 2022. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

Meanwhile, Henderson's brother, Mario Abston, appeared in a different courtroom around the same time. 

Abston's charges were unrelated to his brother's alleged kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher, according to authorities.

The Memphis Police Department said earlier this week that 36-year-old Abston was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell fentanyl, possession with intent to manufacture and sell heroin and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

Records show he is being held on $45,000 bond.

Sept. 8, afternoon

Easter morning

Liza Fletcher smiles on Easter morning with her two young sons. (Liza Fletcher/Instagram)

Eliza Fletcher is remembered in an obituary on Thursday as a "strong believer in the importance of personal growth" who "was not afraid to be vulnerable."

"A born athlete, Liza's passion for sports extended from childhood teams to collegiate competition to excellence in marathons in adulthood," the obituary states. "She found great joy in her morning runs with friends. She channeled her competitive nature into enthusiastic participation in all that she undertook."

Fletcher is described as someone who "modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith."

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Eliza Fletcher's father, James Beasley Wellford along with other family members arrives to the Canale Funeral Directors building in Memphis, Tennessee, September 7 2022. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

"Liza was a light to all who knew her," the obituary states. "Her contagious smile and laughter could brighten any room. Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the very best in everyone she met. To know her was to love her and to be loved by her."

The page adds: "Her impact is extraordinary, as is witnessed in the prayer groups, vigils held at the homes of friends and family, church and school gatherings, and memorial runs and walks held in her honor. The outpouring of love and grief would have surprised Liza, who never thought or acted as if she were something special – though she certainly was."

A funeral service is scheduled to be held on Saturday, September 10th at 10 a.m. local time, at the Second Presbyterian Church.

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Richard Fletcher, and members of Eliza Fletcher's family leave the Canale Funeral Directors building in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, September 7 2022. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

"Above all else, Liza's most cherished role was that of wife and mother," the obituary continues. "She loved her family fiercely and unconditionally. Together as a family, they enjoyed outdoor adventures including boating, water sports, hiking, running, and biking. She was deeply admired by her family and friends for her passionate dedication to motherhood.

Fletcher's family has asked that any memorials be made in the form of contributions to the Liza Wellford Fletcher Memorial Fund at St. Mary's Episcopal School, Christ Methodist Day School, and Second Presbyterian Church.

Fox News Digital captured exclusive images of the grieving family outside the Canale Funeral Directors building.