Cleotha Abston-Henderson faces potential death penalty with first degree murder charge as convicted felon had 16 prior convictions between the ages of 11 -16, including that of rape. It remained unclear if the Memphis mom of two was sexually assaulted leading up to her murder.
A convicted felon could face the death penalty after being charged with murdering mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher after allegedly abducting the Memphis billionaire heiress while she was out on her daily run last Friday.
Cleotha Abston-Henderson, 38, is accused of killing elementary school teacher Eliza ‘Liza’ Fletcher, 34, after bundling her into his car in the early morning hours of Friday morning, circa 4.20am.
Police confirmed a body found near where the runner went missing was indeed that of Eliza Fletcher’s Monday night. Cleotha Abston, aka Cleotha Henderson, come Wednesday faced the judge for the second day in a row.
Appearing at a Memphis, Tennessee court on Wednesday, Cleotha Abston had charges upgraded to first-degree murder, along with first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping with the judge revoking his bail.
Abston was originally charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with/fabricating evidence in this case. That was until investigators located and identified Fletcher’s body.
Convicted felon history of prior criminal arrests
This is Abston’s second kidnapping offense. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison at the age of 16 for kidnapping an attorney in May 2000, only to spend 20 years behind bars before his release in 2020.
Of note, Tennessee is a state with the death penalty, and prosecutors today said that they were not ruling it out if he is convicted.
Tennessee only resumed executing people in 2000. The state went from 1969-2000 without a single execution.
Prosecutors during Wednesday’s hearing confirmed Abston and his Memphis billionaire heiress victim never having met before.
Speaking after the hearing, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy confirmed that the incident was ‘isolated’ and that Fletcher had never met her attacker before.
Mulroy would not confirm if Abston faced further charges, with the judge adjourning the hearing until tomorrow.
Questions have since been raised as to whether the Memphis mom of two was sexually assaulted with neighbors previously describing the suspect as a ‘sexual pervert‘ known for soliciting woman for sex and making unwanted sexual advances.
God bless her soul. Video showing Eliza Fletcher singing to students at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. Clearly she was a very kind and loving soul #lizafletcher #ElizaFletcher #Memphis pic.twitter.com/eTZ9QQZ0s8
— That Guy Shane (@ProfanityNewz) September 6, 2022
Was Memphis mom of two sexually assaulted?
Also raising the question of a possible sexual crime, are court documents cited by the dailymail, revealing Abston previously convicted of raping a man when he was a teenager.
Records show that Abston, who committed his first crime at age 11 — after charged with the theft of property less than $500 — being accused of raping a man and placed in the custody of Shelby County’s Youth Services Bureau.
Just two weeks after his release from SCYSB, the then 11 year old was placed into his mother’s care, the then juvenile would go on to be arrested a further 16 times from October 1995 to May 2000 for rape, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.
It was in May 2000 that Abston was accused of kidnapping lawyer Kemper Durand and sentenced to 22 years in prison for the offence, before being released in 2020. It would be two years later where the convicted felon would allegedly abduct Fletcher along with murdering the mom of two.
Surveillance footage obtained by police, which has not been released, is purported to show a man running ‘aggressively’ towards Fletcher and forcing her into the passenger side of the vehicle.
The pair struggled, and the car then sat in the parking lot for four minutes with Fletcher inside before driving off to an unknown location.
Police tracked him down after finding his DNA on Champion sliders that were left behind during the struggle with Fletcher, as well as her cell phone and water bottle.