Police confirmed Tuesday that a body discovered in a Memphis neighborhood on Monday was that of a Tennessee woman who was abducted late last week. Eliza Fletcher, 34, was forced into an SUV while jogging near the University of Memphis early Friday morning, according to surveillance video.
Cleotha Abston, 38, was arrested in the case and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in the commission of kidnapping, according to police.
Abston showed up in front of a judge on charges of kidnapping, tampering with evidence, theft, identity theft, and fraudulent use of a credit card on Tuesday morning. Fletcher’s family and more than 20 members of the media were in the courtroom.
Abston received a $510,000 bond. Abston claimed that he could not afford bond or a lawyer. Abston will be represented by a public defender, according to General Sessions Judge Louis Montesi.
According to an arrest affidavit, he was arrested on Saturday after police discovered his DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Fletcher was last seen.
Police have also connected the vehicle they think was used in the abduction to a person who was staying at the home where Abston was staying.
According to the Commercial Appeal, Abston previously kidnapped a noteworthy Memphis lawyer in 2000. At the age of 16, Abston forced Kemper Durand into to the trunk of his own vehicle. After several hours, Abston dragged Durand out and forced him to start driving to a Mapco convenience store to withdraw cash from an ATM.
When an armed Memphis Housing Authority guard entered the station, Durand yelled for assistance. Abston attempted to flee but was apprehended. According to court records, he pleaded guilty in 2001 to especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Durand died in 2013, 7 years before Abston’s release date of November 2020, at the age of 36. There had been no further recorded charges against Abston in Shelby County in the two years since his release, according to the Commercial Appeal.