Eliza Fletcher murder suspect reportedly seen cleaning SUV after kidnapping
Newly released surveillance footage appears to show Cleotha Abston, 38, cleaning a dark colored SUV with floor cleaner hours after mother and teacher Eliza Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped early Friday morning. She was officially confirmed dead on Tuesday after her body was discovered the day before.
Abston has since been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Fletcher after she was abducted around 4:20 a.m. Friday while jogging on the University of Memphis campus, about 12 miles from where her body was found.
In surveillance footage obtained by WREG, a black GMC Terrain is seen arriving around 7:57 a.m. at the apartments in Longview, where Abston’s brother, Mario Abston, 36, lives. The GMC Terrain is the vehicle that police say was used in the kidnapping.
Abston was reportedly seen sitting inside the vehicle, where he then opens the trunk and rushes into the apartment moments later, WREG reported.
He then reappears a few minutes later and is seen at the passenger door for over an hour.
According to an affidavit of arrest obtained by the Daily mail, at around 7:50 a.m., a witness saw Abston at his brother’s house, cleaning the interior of the SUV with floor cleaner. The witness added that he “behaved strangely”.
After Abston’s arrest, Mario was also arrested and accused drug and firearms offences, but are believed to be unrelated to the kidnapping, police say.
Abston has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1995, when he was 12 years old. Abston appeared in court on criminal charges in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 for “robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon and rape,” according to court documents via the Memphis Trade Call.
In 2000, when he was 16, Abston and another individual kidnapped Memphis attorney Kemper Durrand, forcing him into the trunk of a vehicle.
Durand was then taken to a Mapco gas station, where Abston ordered him to withdraw cash from an ATM. At the same time, an armed guard from the Memphis Housing Authority entered the station, prompting Durand to cry out for help.
The two kidnappers fled but were both taken into custody and subsequently convicted of Durand’s kidnapping.
Abston received a 24-year prison sentence in 2000, but was released from prison on parole after serving 20 years of his 24-year sentence. The other convicted kidnapper, Marquette Cobbins, received a lighter sentence of seven and a half years in prison, being eligible for parole 18 months later after Durrand noted in court that Abston was the main instigator of the removal.
On the night of Fletcher’s abduction, police allege Abston stalked the area for about half an hour. When Abston allegedly abducted Fletcher, police said there was a struggle between the two before Fletcher was forced into Abston’s vehicle.
Investigators focused on Abston as a suspect when they found a Champion sandal with his DNA on it. Even after his arrest, Abston did not reveal the whereabouts of Fletcher’s body.
In a separate case, Abston is accused of stealing another woman’s wallet and using her credit cards the day before Fletcher’s murder, Fox 13 Memphis reported. He was charged with identity theft, theft of property of $1,000 or less and unlawful possession of credit cards.
Far-left Shelby County District Attorney Steven Mulroy called Abston’s abduction of Fletcher an “isolated stranger attack.”
As Breitbart News reported, although Mulroy has sought to appear as a tough-on-crime prosecutor, suggesting he strongly opposes Abston’s early release, he opposes Tennessee’s anti-crime law. “truth in sentencing” which came into effect this year to ensure violent criminals like Abston serve their full sentences rather than being released early on parole.
What a beautiful person, a teacher who sings for her students.
Eliza Fletcher was killed by a career criminal. Lives like his are lost because we care more about criminals than law-abiding citizens.
—Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) September 6, 2022
Eliza Fletcher was a mother of two children and was married to her husband, Richie, before his death. She is the granddaughter of Joseph Orgill III, the founder of Orgill Inc., a billion dollar hardware company. Fletcher was also a teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, an all-girls academy.
“We are heartbroken over the loss of our beloved teacher, colleague and friend Liza Fletcher. Our hearts go out to the Fletcher, Orgill and Wellford families,” the school said in a statement on Facebook, mourning his death.
Abston is currently being held without bond in the Shelby County Jail.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.