Court documents show that Cleotha Abston, the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Eliza Fletcher on September 2, 2022, around 4:00 a.m. was in prison for 20 years on a 24 year long sentence for the violent kidnapping of a prosecutor, he was 16 years old at the time, and his record in criminal activity dates back to when he was 11 years old. During his original kidnapping at age 16, the prosecutor was held at gunpoint for hours in the truck of the car, until being forced to withdraw money out of an ATM. His previous charges included murder, rape, and assault with a deadly weapon. His first charge was at age 11 years old, where he was arrested for theft.
The suspect charged with snatching Tennessee heiress Eliza Fletcher was accused of rape as a young teen and previously served 20 years for violently kidnapping a prosecutor, according to court records.
Cleotha Abston, 38, has a juvenile record dating back to when he was just 12 — with charges including aggravated assault with a weapon and rape, according to court records obtained by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
He was still only 16 when he kidnapped Memphis-based prosecutor Kemper Durand at gunpoint in the early hours of May 25, 2000, reports from the time show. Durand had testified that only luck had saved him from being killed that day.
Durand died in early February 2013. Abston was released in November 2020, the Commercial Appeal said.
He does not appear to have any documented charges against him in the last two years in the Memphis area — although neighbors called him “creepy” and a “pervert,” saying he would offer them money for sex.
He was busted Sunday after DNA testing on a pair of sandals left at the site of Fletcher’s abduction, with video footage later showing him allegedly violently abducting the mom during her daily early morning jog.
His phone also put him at the scene, and video footage showed he had been stalking the area for at least 24 minutes before Fletcher was grabbed, according to an affidavit.
While Abston served 20 years for his crime, he went on to commit more violent crimes. The family of Eliza Fletcher has at least been able to have some closure during this tragedy with her body being found just 4 days after the killing, and a mass of evidence, including DNA, which ties Abston to the kidnapping and murder, as well as the time leading up to and following the murder. The judicial system failed to assume the violence that Abston is capable of, and Abston being the prime suspect in another kidnapping is further proof of this.