Sep 6, 2022

Body found in Memphis identified as abducted teacher Transcript

Unidentified Body Found Near Area Eliza Fletcher Was Abducted Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsEliza FletcherBody found in Memphis identified as abducted teacher Transcript

Eliza “Liza” Fletcher, 34, was identified as the person found dead in the Tennessee city, roughly 7.5 miles from where surveillance video showed she was forced into an SUV early Friday. Read the transcript here.

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Kate: (00:00)
It is a big break and a tragic outcome in the case of the missing woman in Tennessee. Police have just identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, a school teacher, and a mother of two little children. Fletcher was abducted while jogging early Friday. And now the man charged with first degree murder just wrapped his first court appearance. CNN’s Gary Tuchman is live at the courthouse in Memphis for us at this hour with more than this. Gary, what’s the very latest?

Gary Tuchman: (00:25)
Kate, 10 minutes before this arraignment was scheduled for an accused kidnapper, it ultimately became an arraignment for accused murderer. We were informed by the Memphis police that the body that was recovered last night was identified as Eliza Fletcher. Such a sad outcome, this woman who was kidnapped on Friday had been missing since then. But before her body was found, the arraignment was scheduled in the court for Cleotha Abston. We saw him come in, he was wearing a mask. It was hard to tell what his facial expressions were because of the mask, but he looked impassive. He looked impatient. He had handcuffs behind his back. The only thing he said was yes, when he had to swear that he did not have enough money to pay for an attorney so a public defender was given to him. So he was arraigned officially on the kidnapping charges.

Gary Tuchman: (01:11)
But then the prosecutor said, “Your honor, we just want to tell you, we’re also adding a first degree murder charge to him.” The judge then said, “We need to hold another arraignment.” That arraignment will take place tomorrow. The prosecutors don’t want him to have bail. He has $500,000 bail right now on the kidnapping charge. The prosecutors want it completely revoked. That will be heard tomorrow. But either way, this was a sad and tragic outcome.

Gary Tuchman: (01:36)
And this accused murderer is no stranger to jail bars. In the year 2000, he was found guilty of kidnapping another person. Kidnapping a man, a lawyer here in Memphis who escaped. He served 20 years behind bars. He got out of prison in November 2020, a little less than two years ago and now he’s back in jail again and he will be awaiting a trial ultimately, or plea bargaining perhaps some day, but either way, he’s in a lot of trouble because he’s now accused of first degree murder of this 34-year old mother of two little children, wife, and school teacher. Very sad story, Kate.

Kate: (02:14)
Really is horrible. Gary, thank you so much for being there for your reporting on this. Let’s go to Tennessee right now where the Memphis police chief is speaking. Of course, this is after the body was identified of the missing teacher, Eliza Fletcher. Let’s listen in.

C.J. Davis: (02:25)
Agencies was nothing less than symphonic. We are also very grateful for the hundreds of tips that came through our Crime Stoppers and other platforms from our citizens at large. Our engaged and supportive community is truly our most valued asset. Just remember that this still is an ongoing investigation. At this time I would like to bring up FBI Special Agent in Charge, Doug Korneski. Thank you.

Doug Korneski: (03:04)
Good morning. First and foremost, on behalf of the FBI, I want to extend the extreme sympathy and condolences of our office to the family and friends of Eliza. While most of us did not know her prior to this tragedy, through the course of the recent investigation, we got a small glimmer into the light that she was to her family and friends and community. Next, I just want to commend the immense collaborative efforts of the local, state, and federal law enforcement during this investigation. As the family knows, every possible resource that we had as a law enforcement community to include the FBI was brought to bear to both find Eliza and her perpetrator and hold him accountable. And this simply last, I just want to thank the community for their support during this investigation, the many tips and leads that we received. We are a member of this community as well and this situation, this tragedy impacts us deeply as well. So with that, I just want, again, want to thank the community. Next I’ll be followed by the Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Ali Roberts from ATF.

Doug Korneski: (04:22)
Thank you.

Ali Roberts: (04:26)
First, on behalf of ATF, I’d like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends affected by this tragedy. No resources were spared to locate and arrest the individuals responsible for this incomprehensible, violent crime. ATF utilized resources such as assigning special agents, our canine and utilizing the e-Trace database. We also utilized our expertise as we work with our state and local partners to bring about justice to the family and friends in reference to this tragedy. I would like to bring next up US Marshall, Tyreece Miller.

Marshal Tyreece Miller: (05:12)
Thank you. Good afternoon. On behalf of the United States Marshal Service, we certainly want to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Eliza Fletcher, her friends and family, and those that knew her. As I understand it, she touched many lives and it’s certainly a loss. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, the Marshal Service has a very unique relationship with the Memphis Police Department. At any time they call, we are there to assist. We were glad to receive that call on Saturday when a suspect had been identified. We then went about finding the suspect vehicle in question, as well as the suspect himself. He was spotted, the vehicle was spotted in an apartment complex, and we also conducted surveillance on him. And then when he tried to make a move, we went in and made their arrest safely and took him into custody and turned him over to the custody of the Memphis Police Department.

Marshal Tyreece Miller: (06:20)
And after that, we also participated in the search efforts to find Ms. Fletcher all day Sunday and all day Monday. And as it’s been stated, it was not the outcome we were looking for. We were dedicated and committed to continue those search efforts and assist our partners until she was found. Next, I will turn it over to District Attorney General, Steve Mulroy.

Steve Mulroy: (06:50)
Thank you. Good morning. I also want to add my condolences and the condolences of my office, to the family of Eliza Fletcher. To lose someone so young and so vital is a tragedy in and of itself, but to have it happen in this way, with the senses act of violence, it’s unimaginable, and we express our deepest condolences. We’re praying for them. I’m praying for Eliza and I’m praying for the family.

Steve Mulroy: (07:16)
With respect to the family, both law enforcement and our office was in contact with the family throughout this long weekend. They have been fully cooperative throughout that entire process. And in contrast to whatever baseless speculation you might have seen, we have no reason to think this was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger. With respect to the family, we were in touch with them, as I said, throughout the course of the weekend. I visited with the family personally over the weekend. I also visited them this morning when we had terrible news to deliver to them.

Steve Mulroy: (07:55)
And I have a message from the family that I want to express to all of you, the public, but also the media. Please respect their privacy. Please allow them to grieve. At an appropriate time, they will be making a statement. I believe a written statement will be forthcoming, but we really do ask that you avoid intrusive questioning and respect their privacy.

Steve Mulroy: (08:22)
I also want to take this opportunity to commend all of law enforcement, the people behind me and all the agencies they represent. I had the opportunity to go to the command center over the course of the weekend and I saw my own eyes, the seamless cooperation among all of them. Chief Davis referred to it a moment ago as symphonic, I think that’s an entirely appropriate adjective. I watched myself how they cooperated and I was very impressed with the speed with which they developed leads, the speed with which they turned around test results, the diligence which they coordinated the search efforts. They’re all to be commended.

Steve Mulroy: (09:01)
As for our office, the defendant was arraigned this morning on charges of kidnapping and tampering with evidence. He’ll be arraigned tomorrow morning on new charges that we now have to bring of first degree murder, premeditated murder, murder in the course of, perpetration of a kidnapping. Any kind of violence, of course, is unacceptable, but repeat violent offenders particularly deserve a strong response. And that’s what they’ll get from this district attorney’s office. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and work closely with them as we already have so that we can do our best to bring justice to this tragic situation. And I’ll end there. I’ll note that because this is still an ongoing investigation and a pending case, and I, as a prosecutor, have certain legal limits on what I can say, there are probably limits to what kind of questions that I can answer, or that can be answered by anybody, but I’ll just end there. Thank you.

Speaker 8: (10:13)
This question is for anyone in law enforcement, do you know a manner of death, A, and B, was she killed in the vehicle?

C.J. Davis: (10:22)
It’s too early for us to determine place and method of death at this point.

Speaker 9: (10:28)
Chief, the suspect initially, according to the affidavit, was not being cooperative with authorities, did the suspect ultimately help you find this victim?

C.J. Davis: (10:37)
At this time. I can’t respond. We are still working with that suspect, but at this time we have not gotten very much information from that individual.

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