Man accused of kidnapping mother near University of Memphis

Records show the suspect accused of kidnapping Eliza Fletcher may have seriously injured her.

Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, according to a release.

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A second person not currently believed to be connected to Fletcher’s kidnapping was also arrested during this investigation.

Fletcher has not been located at this time.

On September 2, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) responded to a missing person call in the 1500 block of Carr Avenue.

A man told police his wife, Eliza Fletcher, went for her regular run around 4 a.m. and hadn’t returned home, according to an affidavit.

She was last seen wearing a pink shirt, purple shorts and running shoes.

Cleotha Abston

At approximately 6:45 A.M. that same day, a citizen was riding his bicycle on Central Avenue near Zach Curlin Street and found the victim’s cell phone, as well as a pair of Champions sliders, lying on the road in the same area.

According to a police affidavit, the citizen handed over these items to a member of the victim’s family who then turned them over to investigators.

Investigators then located surveillance video near the 3800 block of Central Avenue that showed a black GMC Terrain driving by and then waiting for the victim to run.

According to records, a man got out of the Terrain, ran aggressively toward the victim, then forced the victim, Fletcher, into the passenger side of the car.

During the abduction, there appeared to be a struggle.

Slider sandals were found in this area.

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The car then sat in the parking lot with the victim inside for about 4 minutes before driving away.

According to an affidavit, the car had noticeable damage to the passenger tail light. Additionally, just 24 minutes or so before the abduction, surveillance footage captured the same car in the area and recorded a partial license plate.

The slider sandals were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for DNA testing, the affidavit said.

That’s when investigators developed Cleotha Abston as a person of interest in the investigation.

DNA found on the shoes matched Cleotha Abston’s DNA in the CODIS database.

That finding led investigators to try to confirm Cleotha Abston’s location before, during and after the abduction, according to records.

According to the police report, investigators were able to recover surveillance footage of the suspect wearing the same sandals the day before the abduction. The material was taken from the 1000 block of N. Germantown Parkway at the Malco Theater and recovered by authorities.

Cleotha Abston was found living in the 5700 block of Waterstone Oak Way.

The home on this site has active utilities in a woman’s name.

According to records, law enforcement databases revealed that the individual whose name is on the utilities has a black 2013 GMC Terrain with the same license plate.

Investigators also located a police report from Sept. 1 that listed an address in the 5700 block of Waterstone Oak Way for Cleotha Abston.

Officers then interviewed the owner of a cleaning service, who verified that he employed the suspect and that he drives a GMC Terrain. The suspect’s phone number was also given, records show.

According to police, investigators obtained phone records for that number and analysis determined that the phone associated with the number was located near the 3800 block of Central Avenue during the time Fletcher was seen forcing his way into the Terrain.

On September 3, the Terrain with the same license plate was located by members of the US Marshals Service at approximately 11 a.m.

According to records, the car was backed into a parking spot in the parking area of ​​the 5700 block of Waterstone Oak Way and was confirmed to be the car by the license plate number and noticeable damage to the rear passenger side tail light.

The damage was captured on video of the hijacking and the license plate partially identified on surveillance footage.

Members of the US Marshals Service observed a man matching the suspect’s physical description standing in the doorway at that Waterstone Oak Way address.

According to an affidavit, officers then arrested the suspect at the scene while he was in possession of the Land. When officers stopped Cleotha Abston, she tried to run away but was arrested.

Investigators then interviewed a person who said that after the abduction at 7:50 a.m., they saw Cleotha Abston at Mario Abston’s home in the 1700 block of S. Orleans Street, according to a report.

This address is not the suspect’s home.

The person reported seeing the suspect cleaning the interior of the GMC Terrain with a floor cleaner and stated he was acting strange, an affidavit said.

The same information was later provided by Mario Abston, the suspects’ brother, who said he also saw the suspect cleaning the interior of the car with a floor cleaner, records show.

Both the witness and the brother saw the suspect washing his clothes in the sink of the house.

Mario Abston said it appeared the suspect was acting very strange.

Cleotha Abston refused to give investigators the victim’s location, police said.

The affidavit stated:

“As the abduction was violent with, as captured on video, the suspect waiting, then rushing towards the victim, then forcing him into the car, where he was restrained and driven away and continues to be unknown, believed and supported by the facts and the physical evidence that he suffered a serious injury. Furthermore, it is probable and apparent from witness statements that these injuries left traces of blood on the car that the defendant cleaned.”

Fletcher’s family spoke out Saturday, releasing a public statement and video of her uncle, Mike Kinney, speaking:

“We want to start by thanking everyone for their prayers and outpouring of support. Lisa has touched the hearts of many people and it shows. We want to thank the Memphis Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, TBI, FBI and all other law enforcement agencies who are working tirelessly to find Lisa. The family has met with the police and we have shared with them all the information we know. More than anything we want to see Lisa come home safely. The family has offered a reward for any information leading to her safe return. We believe someone knows what happened and can help.”

The other man arrested, Mario Abston, 36, was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell fentanyl, possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell heroin and a conviction for possession of a weapon during a Dangerous Felony Commission, police said. .

Police said at this time it is not believed to be connected to Fletcher’s abduction.

FOX13 Investigates has learned Cleotha Abston was previously charged with aggravated kidnapping in June 2000, according to court records. He was sentenced in 2001 to 24 years in prison, but the crime was eligible for him to serve 85 percent of his sentence, meaning he would have served 20 years, according to reports.

It came out sometime in the last couple of years.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping, which is an 11-year sentence, which he likely served at the same time as the kidnapping.

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