There’s a lot of anger and anguish in my hometown of Memphis.
Early Friday morning a predator kidnapped Eliza Fletcher, a beloved school teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. She is also a devoted wife and mother of two young boys.
As newspapers around the world have reported she is also the granddaughter of the late Joseph “Joe” Orgill III, a Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist.
The 34-year-old was snatched off the street during a routine run around 4:30 a.m. near the University of Memphis campus.
Police say the abduction was bloody and violent – and it was all captured on video.
Investigators have arrested Cleotha Abston and he’s been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping as well as tampering with evidence. They said the suspect laid in waiting in the dark of the morning, rushed toward the victim and forced her into an SUV.
He refuses to tell police where they can find Mrs. Fletcher.
If only the family would be given a few minutes of unsupervised, off-the-book, time with the suspect…
The horrific crime has captured the attention of the entire world — but especially here in Memphis – a city that has been controlled by progressive Democrats for a generation. We live in a war zone where people are murdered and shot and robbed and carjacked on a daily basis.
The crime rate in Memphis surpasses some of the largest cities in our nation.
This is a city where police are simply not provided the resources they need to do their jobs. The department is suffering a manpower shortage that numbers in the hundreds.
But what’s especially heart-wrenching is that this crime was completely avoidable.
In 2001 Abston was arrested and charged with kidnapping a local attorney during a violent carjacking. The attorney, who survived, was stuffed in the trunk of the car.
Abston was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
So why didn’t he serve out the full term of his sentence? It was a violent, heinous crime. Why was he allowed to walk out of jail and back onto the streets of Memphis?
The ABC television affiliate in Memphis reached out to the Department of Corrections. They said Abston served his sentence, but he also received credits for the time he was in jail and for completing programs.
It doesn’t matter. If you do the crime, you do the time. The problem is that violent criminals are being treated as victims.
That’s why Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton embrace legislation to fix that problem.
It’s called “Truth in Sentencing” and it mandates that criminals serve 100 percent of their sentences for 31 differnet violent offenses.
“Real Truth in Sentencing means no early release from prison,” he wrote in 2021. “We need to protect victims, not violent criminals.”
Don’t do the crime, if you can’t handle the time, he said.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee bewildered conservatives when he refused to sign the bill, opting instead for it to become law without his signature.
“You can protect criminals, or you can protect victims,” Sexton said in response to the governor’s political capitulation. “I stand with victims, as do members of law enforcement, our district attorneys and criminal judges across Tennessee.”
If only Speaker Sexton’s legislation had been on the books sooner, Abston would still be in jail and Mrs. Fletcher would be attending services at Second Presbyterian Church with her husband and two young sons.
The truth is that there are far too many soft-on-crime politicians from both political parties. They coddle the criminals and treat the victims as if they are to blame.
The way I see it – any lawmaker or bureaucrat who played a part in letting Abston out of prison should be facing charges, too.
To make matters worse, Memphis voters just booted a tough-on-crime Republican district attorney out of office. Steve Mulroy, the new district attorney, is a George Soros-styled prosecutor.
He may be less concerned about justice for the Fletcher family and more concerned about whether Abston will be able to afford to post bail.
Let’s pray that Mrs. Fletcher is found alive.