Eliza Fletcher: Man charged in abduction of Memphis heiress previously jailed for another kidnapping | US News

The man accused of kidnapping the Memphis heiress was previously sentenced to 24 years in prison for another kidnapping.

Cleotha Abston, 38, was arrested by US police on Saturday after his DNA was discovered on a pair of sandals near where Eliza Fletcher was last seen.

Police also linked the vehicle they believe was used in the kidnapping to a person at the compound where Abston was staying, according to an arrest affidavit.

Ms. Fletcher was arrested while jogging near the University of Memphis around 4 a.m. Friday.

The 34-year-old teacher has yet to be found.

Police said they believe she was seriously injured in the kidnapping, based on what they’ve seen in surveillance footage.

But it is reported that Abston was only 16 years old when he kidnapped Memphis’ lawyer, Kemper Durand, in 2000.

Mr. Durand was able to escape after a number of hours, and Abston was jailed for 24 years after pleading guilty to more serious kidnapping and robbery.

Cleotha Abston on Saturday, September 3, 2022. Photo: Shelby County Sheriff's Office / AP
Cleotha Abston on Saturday, September 3, 2022. Photo: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office / AP

‘I would have most likely been killed if I hadn’t escaped’

Mr Durand died in 2013 but he said in a statement to the court he was “extremely fortunate” to be able to escape Abston, adding: “It is very likely that I would have been killed if I had not escaped. .”

In a statement published by the Commercial Appeal, he said: “It is my feeling to have been the victim of this crime, and the feelings of those around me, that I have been extremely fortunate to have escaped the situation. Cleotha Abston’s detention.

“I was taken from the trunk of my car, where he and his accomplices had placed me for a number of hours, and taken for a drive to Mapco station.

“The point is that I use my ATM card to get cash for Cleotha Abston.

“Luckily, an armed, uniformed Memphis Housing Authority guard happened to walk into Mapco station while Cleotha Abston, Marquette Cobbins (second defendant) and I were using the machine. ATM.

“Most likely I would have been killed if I hadn’t escaped.”

$50,000 reward provided by the woman’s family

Mr Durand told the court that Cobbins had come to the wrong place at the wrong time and had tried to convince Abston to stop.

According to Durand’s statement, Abston had also been charged with a number of crimes prior to his abduction, including aggravated assault with a weapon and rape, some of which occurred when he was 12 years old.

Abston is released from prison in 2020.

He will appear in court on Tuesday, charged with particularly aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence in Miss Fletcher’s disappearance.

On Friday, Ms Fletcher’s family offered a reward of $50,000 (£43,000) through Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for her disappearance.

She is the niece of the late Joseph Orgill III, a Memphis hardware dealer and philanthropist.

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