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Man who murdered heiress charged with raping, kidnapping another woman

REVEALED: Man who ‘murdered’ billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher is charged with the unsolved rape and kidnapping of ANOTHER woman one year ago after DNA taken during his latest arrest linked him to the 2021 crime

  • Cleotha Abston, 38, was handed down a second indictment during a hearing that saw a judge deny him bail for his prospective part in Fletcher’s death 
  • Abston was arrested Tuesday – less than a day after detectives found Fletcher’s body – but rebooked on Friday on charges of aggravated rape and kidnapping
  • Memphis Police said that the charges stem from a rape kit sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation two days after Abston’s latest arrest 
  • The charges date back to Sept. 21, 2021 and the alleged victim in this case has yet to be identified 

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering billionaire heiress Eliza Fetcher was charged with an unrelated kidnapping and rape that took place a year earlier thanks to DNA evidence compiled from his most recent arrest. 

Cleotha Abston, 38, was handed down a second indictment during a Thursday hearing that saw a judge deny him bail for his alleged part in Fletcher’s death. The new charges appeared in the Shelby County criminal justice portal the next day. 

Abston was arrested on Tuesday – less than a day after detectives found Fletcher’s body – but was rebooked on Friday on new charges of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping and unlawful carrying of a weapon.

Memphis Police said that the charges stem from a rape kit sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation two days after Abston’s arrest for allegedly murdering Fletcher. 

The charges date back to September 21, 2021 and the alleged victim in this case has yet to be identified, according to Commercial Appeal. 

Police say the unrelated abduction occurred 12 months ago and saw the suspect rape a woman. 

A 38-year-old career criminal who served 20 years in prison for kidnapping, Cleotha Abston had been charged with first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnaping of Fletcher, the 34-year-old heiress to the $3billion Orgill Hardware company 

Memphis mom of two Eliza Fletcher, 34, (pictured with her husband and two young sons) was kidnapped after being forced into a black SUV on Friday. Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with her kidnap and murder after her body was found in long grass against an abandoned house

Abston is a career criminal who served 20 years in prison for yet another kidnapping, in that case a man. 

Memphis police confirmed the new charges Saturday, without providing any additional information on the 2021 case in question – other than confirmation that the new counts aren’t tied to the Fletcher case.

He had been charged with first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnaping of Fletcher, a 34-year-old kindergarten teacher who had been on her routine morning jog Friday September 5 in Memphis, Tennessee, when she was caught on camera being forced into a black SUV.

Abston appeared in court in Memphis on Thursday, where he was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence – with the judge again refusing him bail ahead of another hearing on September 19.

Jennifer Case, his public defender, initially argued that there was a conflict of interest in her representing him as her office had worked with him in a previous criminal matter in the early 2000s. 

However the matter was dismissed by the judge, Louis Montesi Jr, despite him agreeing to hear her arguments regarding a gag order at a later hearing. 

Case argued that certain aspects of the case should not be made public after Memphis Police Chief C.J. David called Abston a ‘dangerous predator.’

Tennessee is a state with the death penalty, and prosecutors on Thursday said that they were not ruling it out if he is convicted.  

Abston wore a green prison-issued uniform and a mask and only spoke to his public defender during the short hearing.


Fletcher was last seen about 4.20am on Friday, when she was jogging (right) in Memphis and a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said

 

Fletcher pictured with her husband Richie and their two children. The family described her as a ‘special’ woman who was taken away from them in a ‘senseless’ manner

Abston has been known to law enforcement since he was 11-years-old. 

Now 38, he was just 11 when he first appeared in Shelby County Juvenile Court, charged with theft of property $500 or less. Court documents reveal that he was then convicted of raping a man when he was a teenager, and was placed in the custody of Shelby County’s Youth Services Bureau.

He was detained 16 times from October 1995 to May 2000 for rape, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.

According to Action News 5 his first charges were filed against him in June 1995, and that he was part of the ‘LMG’ gang – which stands for ‘Lemoyne Gardens Gangstas.’

Two weeks after he was released from the youth services bureau to his mother’s care, he was transferred to adult court for the 2000 kidnapping lawyer Kemper Durand – who worked in the same law firm as Fletcher’s uncle Michael Keeney.

Abston has been known to law enforcement since he was 11-years-old. Now 38, he was just 11 when he first appeared in Shelby County Juvenile Court, charged with theft of property $500 or less. He was then convicted of raping a man when he was a teenager, as well as kidnapping another man who survived to tell the tale

Abston was only 16-years-old when he and an accomplice kidnapped Durand, threw him into his own trunk, and tried to force him to withdraw money at a gas station ATM.

In his victim impact statement, Durand, who died in 2013, said he feared for his life during his kidnapping, where he was rescued by a nearby Memphis Housing Authority guard who heard his scream for help, the Commercial Appeal reported.

‘It is quite likely that I would have been killed had I not escaped,’ Durand wrote.

Abston was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the offence, but was released early in 2020, before kidnapping again just two years later. 

Ex-FBI officer Jennifer Coffindaffer told NewsNation that she condemned the decision to release Abston two-years early, saying that keeping him in prison would have prevented Fletcher’s death.

‘Any time someone is let out early and the goes on to commit another violent crime, yes, I think society’s let down,’ she said. ‘I think we are all let down by his early release.’

Coffindaffer also said that Durand’s connection to Fletcher’s uncle is a ‘very significant clue.’

‘I’m sure certainly that the FBI, that the US Marshals, and that the TBI is looking closely at this relationship,” she said. 

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