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Belmont alum killed in Memphis kidnapping

Eliza Wellford Fletcher, a Memphis pre-kindergarten teacher and Belmont alumna who was abducted during her morning run on Friday, has been found dead according to ABC24 Memphis.

In an email to students, President Greg Jones spoke of the 2012 Belmont Master of Arts graduate, writing, “We are shocked and saddened by this tragic news, and our deep condolences and prayers are with her family and friends as they begin to navigate profound grief.”

Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother of two, was discovered Monday evening in a vacant Memphis home after days of police searching. ABC24 Memphis reports that District Attorney Steve Mulroy believes this to be a “random attack by a stranger.”

Suspect Cleotha Abston was taken into custody on Saturday and has since been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, alongside various other charges.

Abston was previously charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery in Shelby County in 2000. He was released from custody in November 2020.

“Though we all hoped for a different outcome, we are grateful for the many law enforcement teams that worked together throughout the weekend to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible,” wrote President Jones.

This story was written by Lilly Owens

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