Eliza Fletcher abduction: Cleotha Abston charged in Memphis billionaire murder after her body is discovered and positively identified as new video shows man cleaning car moments after killing his victim.
Tennessee authorities have released new video showing the moment an ex-convict suspected of kidnapping and murdering billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher cleans out his SUV – just hours after her disappearance while on a morning jog in Memphis.
The footage shows Cleotha Abston, 38, driving to the home of his brother, Mario, at the Longview Gardens apartment complex around 8am on Friday morning some hours after his victim was kidnapped while going out for her morning run circa 4am.
Fletcher, 34, was abducted roughly seven miles away, close to the University of Memphis. The woman’s body was found just a few hundred feet from the building where Abston was seen cleaning his vehicle.
In the video, he can be seen sitting in his car after arriving at the complex. After a period of time, he gets up and goes to the trunk of the car. It’s unclear what he was getting from the trunk.
Earlier on Tuesday, authorities in Memphis confirmed that the body found nearby was that of the mother-of-two. Her body was found behind a home in the area.
— xoxocrimegirl (@xoxocrimegirl) September 6, 2022
— That Guy Shane (@ProfanityNewz) September 5, 2022
Neighbors witnessed suspect cleaning car and acting strange
Fletcher, an heiress to the billion-dollar Orgill hardware fortune, is survived by her husband, Richie, and their two children.
After rummaging around in the vehicle’s trunk, Abston runs into his 36-year-old brother’s home. He returns to the car and spends more than an hour on the passenger side of the GMC Terrain.
According to a criminal affidavit, Mario Abston‘s neighbors witnessed the suspect cleaning out his car and reported that he had been acting strange.
Following the announcement of the discovery of Fletcher’s remains, authorities announced upgraded charges against Abston, including first degree murder and first degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping.
Fletcher’s family released a statement in which they described her death as a ‘senseless loss.’ The statement read in part: ‘Liza was such a joy to so many – her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her congregation, and everyone who knew her.’
Her family also thanked law enforcement for their efforts in searching for Fletcher and apprehending Abston.
They said: ‘We are grateful beyond measure to local, state, and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person for this horrible crime.’
Tucker on the murder of Eliza Fletcher: “Everyone knows the rules. Eliza Fletcher violated those rules. You can’t go outside at certain hours in certain places in America. And if you do, you run the risk of being raped and murdered. That’s how things work in this country.” pic.twitter.com/LrOluftv3J
— American Firebrand (@FirebrandPAC) September 7, 2022
How about instead of saying “she shouldn’t have been jogging at 4:30 in the morning”…we say that no one should be fearful of being abducted or killed on a run. She did nothing wrong. #bebetter #ElizaFletcher
— Donna Auter (@dkauter) September 5, 2022
Fletcher’s murder comes after Abston was released two years ago for another abduction along with neighbors who they described as a ‘sexual pervert’ constantly soliciting women for sex.
According to a crime affidavit, Abston had stalked the area where Fletcher went missing from while jogging for almost 30 minutes before her abduction.
Authorities arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, before initially charging him with aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s disappearance on September 2.
The man is now facing first degree murder and other charges in the wake of the discovery of Fletcher’s body.
Authorities also reviewed surveillance footage of the vehicle used in the kidnapping in the same area 24 minutes before the mother-of-two was taken at 4:20am.
In the video, yet to be publicly released, police said video shows a man running ‘aggressively’ towards Fletcher and forcing her into the passenger side of the vehicle.
Eliza Fletcher: A private investigator tells NewsNation he believes the Memphis teacher’s abduction was not random.
Full story: https://t.co/kUnUw0bRLN#ElizaFletcher #PrivateInvestigator #missing pic.twitter.com/AM0LJcrkRO
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) September 5, 2022
Private investigator says Eliza Fletcher murder was not planned but orchestrated
Police officers discovered the body of Fletcher in the long grass behind an abandoned house after spotting vehicle tracks and smelling an ‘odor of decay’.
She was found close to where her Lululemon running shorts were found in a trash bag.
Authorities have not yet confirmed Fletcher’s cause of death, but they have confirmed the identity of the body, which was found seven miles from where she was last seen.
She was discovered by the steps of a dilapidated one-story property just yards from where police last spotted the vehicle she was forced into.
A bloodstain remained at the bottom of the stairs next to the patch of dirt where her body was found, with flies still swarming the area.
The video comes as former FBI investigator Jennifer Coffindaffer revealed that Abston’s first kidnapping victim, Memphis Attorney Kemper Durand, worked in the same flaw firm as Fletcher’s uncle, Michael Keeney, NewsNation reports.
She said: ‘I think this is a very significant clue, and I’m sure certainly that the FBI, the US Marshalls and the TBI is looking closely at this relationship.’
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 2000.
Abston spent 22 years in jail for the crime, and two years later after his early release in 2020.
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
Prior criminal lengthy criminal rap
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 screams for help, the Commercial Appeal reported.
‘It is quite likely that I would have been killed had I not escaped,’ Durand wrote.
According to Durand’s impact statement, the lawyer was alarmed by the teenager’s lengthy rap sheet that began when he was just 12, which included charges of theft, aggravated assault, and rape.
Durand was sentenced to 24 years in prison but was released early in 2020, according to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Coffindaffer condemned the decision to release Abston two years early, saying that keeping him in prison would have prevented the alleged crime.
‘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.’