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Cleotha Abston Murder Suspect Eliza Fletcher Explains Violent History of Rape, Assault and Kidnapping


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Cleotha Abston-Henderson, Memphis, Tennessee, 38, a man charged in the kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher, a teacher and mother of two, was just 16 when he began a 20-year sentence of jail for abducting another victim at gunpoint.

Abston-Henderson’s criminal past began when he was still younger with charges of aggravated assault and rape. He told investigators he dropped out of school after ninth grade, according to court documents obtained by Fox News Digital, but they found no evidence he attended his stated high school.

Authorities confirmed to Fox News Digital on Tuesday that a juvenile court found it to be true that Abston-Henderson, also known as ‘Pookie’, committed an act of juvenile delinquent rape against an unnamed suspect. at the age of 14.

“The thing with these sexual predators, it seems like it doesn’t matter how much time they spend,” John Kelly, a criminal profiler and psychotherapist who has interviewed several serial killers, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday. “When they come out, they’re back hunting.”

ELIZA FLETCHER LIVE UPDATES: MEMPHIS TEACHER KILLED IN ‘SUSPECTED LONE ATTACK BY STRANGER’

Left: Eliza Fletcher in a photo released by Memphis police. Right: Cleotha Abston-Henderson appears in court for her arraignment on September 6, 2022.
(Memphis Police Department, Adam Sabes/Fox News Digital)

At 16, Abston-Henderson abducted Memphis attorney Kemper Durand (now deceased) at gunpoint, threw him in the trunk of his own car and drove him to various ATMs , demanding that he withdraw cash, according to court documents. Abston-Henderson pleaded guilty in that case and served about 20 years of a 24-year sentence.

“I understand that [Abston’s] dates back to 1995, when he was about 13 years old, and shows juvenile court cases every year – 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999,” Durand wrote in a 2001 victim impact statement obtained by Fox News Digital. “He obviously never learned any lessons from his encounters with the law.”

ELIZA FLETCHER’S ABDUCTION: TIMELINE OF MEMPHIS TEACHER’S DISAPPEARANCE AND MURDER

Victim impact statement for Kemper Durand in 2001 after Cleotha Abston-Henderson kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him to withdraw cash from several ATMs.

Victim impact statement for Kemper Durand in 2001 after Cleotha Abston-Henderson kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him to withdraw cash from several ATMs.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

Durand told the court that although he suffered no physical injuries, he had recurring bad dreams about being kidnapped and criticized Abston-Henderson for showing no remorse.

ELIZA FLETCHER KIDNAPPING: MEMPHIS POLICE FIND TIRE TRACK MARKS, ‘ODOR OF DECAY’ SEARCHING FOR TENNESSEE MOM

Victim impact statement for Kemper Durand in 2001 after Cleotha Abston-Henderson kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him to withdraw cash from several ATMs.

Victim impact statement for Kemper Durand in 2001 after Cleotha Abston-Henderson kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him to withdraw cash from several ATMs.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

“It took Cleotha Abston from June 2000 to September 2000, approximately 15 months, to come to a plea of ​​guilty to the crime which he confessed to on May 29, 2000,” Durand wrote. “He turned down a plea deal because he ‘didn’t want to sign first.’

Durand died in 2013, according to an online obituary.

ELIZA FLETCHER MISSING: KIDNAPPING SUSPECT CLEOTHA ABSTON KIDNAPPED MEMPHIS LAWYER AT GUNPOINT DECADES AGO

The booking photo shows Cleotha Abston.

The booking photo shows Cleotha Abston.
(Tennessee Department of Corrections)

A list of ameliorative factors for Abston-Henderson in Durand’s abduction included his history of violence, being the ringleader of a crime involving multiple suspects and, handwritten, a reference to the rape case.

Liza Fletcher, left, kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston, right

Liza Fletcher, left, kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston, right
(Memphis PD/TBI/Shelby County Jail)

Abston-Henderson separately told investigators that he had “a good relationship with his family, but his childhood was difficult,” the documents say. He served about 20 years of a 24-year sentence and was released two years ago, according to state prison records.

Early Friday, according to a new affidavit, he was hiding near the University of Memphis campus for about 24 minutes before Fletcher’s routine morning jog brought him to the area.

Cleotha Abston-Henderson's criminal record began when he was a young teenager.

Cleotha Abston-Henderson’s criminal record began when he was a young teenager.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

Fletcher, a fit 34-year-old man about 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds, came jogging in the area. Abston-Henderson, at 6 feet tall and 175 pounds, reportedly jumped.

“Investigators located a lookout near 3876 Central Avenue that showed a black GMC Terrain passing and then waiting for the victim to pass,” the affidavit reads. “A man exited the black GMC Terrain and ran aggressively towards the victim, then forced[d] victim, Eliza Fletcher, in the passenger side of the vehicle.”

Cleotha Abston-Henderson appears before a judge in Memphis, Tennessee on September 6, 2022.

Cleotha Abston-Henderson appears before a judge in Memphis, Tennessee on September 6, 2022.
(Adam Sabes for Fox News Digital)

There was “a struggle”, according to the affidavit, and then “the vehicle remained in the parking lot with the victim inside for approximately four minutes before driving off”.

Police said they found Abston-Henderson’s DNA on shoes recovered from the scene and arrested him over the weekend. They found Fletcher’s body behind a vacant Victor Street home on Monday.

In a statement, Fletcher’s family said they were confident they would find justice in court.

“We are heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss,” the family said through a spokesperson. “Liza was such a joy to so many – her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation and everyone who knew her.”

The statement continued: “Now is the time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much about her. We appreciate all the expressions of love and concern we have. We are grateful beyond measure to local, state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and bring justice to the person responsible for this horrific crime.”

Richie Fletcher leaves his home in Memphis on Saturday afternoon, September 3, 2022, a day after reporting that his wife had disappeared from her routine morning jog.

Richie Fletcher leaves his home in Memphis on Saturday afternoon, September 3, 2022, a day after reporting that his wife had disappeared from her routine morning jog.
(Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

WHO IS ELIZA FLETCHER? MEMPHIS TEACHER ABDUCTED DURING MORNING JOG

Abston-Henderson is being held on $510,000 bond. He is due back in court Wednesday morning. Her brother, Mario Abston, is being held in Shelby County Jail in Memphis on unrelated charges.

Given the defendant’s past, according to Kelly, the criminal profiler, there’s a chance he went to plan the evening to prevent any witnesses from testifying against him – even if it was an attack on the chance. That’s not unusual among repeat offenders, he said.

“By leaving a victim alive, the victim became a witness and testified against him,” he said. “And then he had [prison] time.”

Often they reoffend after release, he said, and can be more violent.

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“Because it’s really plain and simple, and I’ve seen that with a lot of guys in their stories,” he said. “No witness? There is no chance at any time.



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