A new video has surfaced showing murder suspect Cleotha Abston cleaning his SUV after the kidnapping and death of Eliza Fletcher in Memphis.
Footage shows Abston, 38, driving to his brother Mario’s home in the Longview Gardens apartment complex around 8am on Friday morning.
Less than four hours earlier, Fletcher, 34, was violently abducted while jogging near the University of Memphis.
In the video, Abston can be seen sitting in his car after arriving at the complex. After some time he gets up and goes to the trunk of the car. What he stole from the trunk is unclear.
Earlier Tuesday, Memphis authorities confirmed the body found near the apartment complex was that of mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher. Her body was found behind a house in the area.
Fletcher, an heiress to Orgill’s multibillion-dollar hardware fortune, is survived by her husband, Richie, and their two children.
According to the affidavit in the case, Mario Abston’s neighbors saw the suspect cleaning his car and reported that he was acting strangely
Eliza Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped after being forced into a black SUV on Friday. The driver of this SUV, Cleotha Abston, was arrested over the weekend and multiple police sources have confirmed that a body found is that of the missing mother-of-two
From there, Abston runs to his 36-year-old brother’s house. He returns to the car and spends more than an hour on the passenger side of the GMC Terrain.
According to the affidavit in the case, Mario Abston’s neighbors saw the suspect cleaning his car and reported that he was acting strangely.
After announcing the discovery of Fletcher’s remains and new charges against Abton, Fletcher’s family released a statement calling her death 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 community and everyone who knew her.”
Her family also thanked law enforcement for their efforts in finding Fletcher and arresting Abston.
A map showing the extent of the citywide search for Eliza Fletcher in Memphis
Police officers discovered the missing mother of two in the tall grass nearby, where her Lululemon running shorts were found in a garbage bag. She was discovered lying in tall grass next to an abandoned property
Following the discovery of the car, Fletcher’s family, her father Beasley, her mother Adele, her brother Gill and her husband, along with their attorney Mike Keeney, appeared on camera
They said, “We are beyond measure grateful to local, state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and bring justice to the person for this horrific crime.”
“It’s emotional, it really hurts,” April Jackson, 30, a neighbor of Mario Abston, told DailyMail.com Monday night before the body was identified.
“It could have been anyone jogging that morning, a student, anyone. And he was just released two years ago for another kidnapping, and he’s coming out and doing it again,” she said.
‘It makes me sick.’ She was outside yesterday offering to help search when police and a bloodhound were in the area, just a few hundred yards from the body.
The criminal complaint against Cleotha cited witnesses who said they saw the suspect acting strangely at his brother’s home, washing the carpet at this 2013 GMC compound
Memphis police officers are shown near the crime scene where Fletcher’s body was found
Abston had been jogging for nearly 30 minutes prior to her abduction to track the area she had disappeared from.
On Sunday, a neighbor of Mario Abston exclusively told DailyMail.com that she had seen the suspect at his brother’s house almost every day for the last month.
Authorities arrested Cleotha Abston, 38, before charging him with particularly aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher’s disappearance on September 2.
Officers have footage of the vehicle used in the kidnapping in the same area 24 minutes before the mother-of-two was abducted at 4:20 a.m. in Memphis, Tennessee.
Members of the Memphis Police Department SWAT team prepare to raid a home in Memphis
Surveillance footage obtained by police, which has not been released, shows a man “aggressively” approaching Fletcher and forcing her onto the passenger side of the vehicle.
Police officers discovered Fletcher’s body in tall grass behind an abandoned house after spotting vehicle tracks and smelling a “smell of decay”.
She was found in a garbage bag near where her Lululemon running shorts were found.
The disappearance of Eliza Fletcher
September 2, 4:30 a.m.: Fletcher, 34, goes for a jog near the University of Memphis campus and is squeezed into a dark-colored SUV
7.45am: Officers are dispatched after husband Richard reports her disappearance. They find their water fight and their smashed cell phone in front of a house near the crime scene
September 3: Police officers tow her family car from her home. Investigators were also seen labeling pruning shears and a computer as evidence. They comb a local park and release CCTV from GMC Terrain
Cleo Abston, 38, is arrested on particularly aggravated kidnapping and evidence tampering charges. He was identified as the owner of the black SUV. He was arrested after being involved in a car crash involving an alcohol tobacco firearms vehicle on Saturday night. It is later revealed that he was recently released from a 20-year sentence for a similar crime
September 4: Abston is charged with particularly aggravated kidnapping and evidence tampering
September 5: Cops search pond and park. Abston faces new charges of identity theft, property theft and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit cards of $1,000 or less
A body is found near Abston’s brother’s house. It has not been confirmed as Fletcher’s
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 it was last found.
She was spotted on the steps of a derelict one-story property just yards from where police last discovered the vehicle she was being forced into.
A bloodstain remained at the foot of the stairs next to the dirt stain where her body was found, with flies still buzzing the area.
The video comes as former FBI investigator Jennifer Coffinaffer revealed that Abston’s first kidnapping victim, Memphis attorney Kemper Durand, worked at the same bug firm as Fletcher’s uncle Michael Keeney, NewsNation reports.
She said, “I think this is a very important lead and I’m sure the FBI, the US Marshals and the TBI are investigating this relationship closely.”
Abston was just 16 when he and an accomplice kidnapped Durand in 2000, dumped him in his own trunk and tried to force him to withdraw money from a gas station ATM.
Abton spent 22 years in prison for the crime and two years later after his early release in 2020.
In his victim statement, Durand, who died in 2013, said he feared for his life during his abduction, where he was rescued by a nearby Memphis Housing Authority security guard who heard his cry for help, the Commercial Appeal reported.
“It is very likely that I would have been killed had I not escaped,” Durand wrote. That’s what the attorney said in his statement
According to Durand’s impact statement, the lawyer was alarmed by the teenager’s long criminal record, which began when he was just 12 and included charges of theft, aggravated assault and rape.
Durand was sentenced to 24 years in prison but was released in early 2020, according to the Tennessee Department of Justice.
Coffinaffer condemned the decision to release Abston two years earlier, saying his incarceration would have prevented the alleged crime.
“Anytime someone gets parole and then commits another violent crime, yes, I think society has failed,” she said. “I think we are all disappointed by his early release.