New charges filed against man accused of abducting Memphis mother near UofM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New charges have been filed against the man accused of abducting Memphis mother and teacher Eliza Fletcher.

Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped while running around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, September 2, near the University of Memphis, according to the Memphis Police Department (MPD).

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Two days later, on September 4, 38-year-old Cleotha Abston was arrested and charged with the aggravated kidnapping of Fletcher, a mother to two young boys and a teacher at St. Mary’s school. Memphis Police said that Abston refused to tell them Fletcher’s location but authorities believe she suffered serious bodily harm in the abduction.

Abston was given a $500,000 bond for the charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with or fabricating evidence in connection to Fletcher’s abduction.

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On Monday, September 5, new charges were announced against Abston, seemingly from an unrelated incident just a day before Fletcher was abducted.

On Thursday, September 1, a woman reported to Memphis Police that her CashApp and Wisely Card were being used at gas stations without her knowledge or consent.

The woman told police that she left her wallet at work, at a Malco on Germantown Road. When investigators reviewed video from that Malco, they said they saw a member of a cleaning service take her wallet, an arrest affidavit shows. The manager of that cleaning service identified the person who took the wallet as Abston, police said.

The woman who’s wallet was stolen told police which gas stations her cards had been used at and investigators were able to recover footage showing Abston using the cards at gas pumps, according to an arrest affidavit.

In all, Abston took $910.80 from her, police said. In connection to that case, Abston now faces charges of identity theft, theft of property $1,000 or less and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit cards, according to his arrest affidavit.

As of 5 p.m. on Monday, September 5, Fletcher had still not been located despite multiple extensive searches.

Memphis Police said that Abston was connected to Fletcher’s abduction after his sandals were found near Fletcher’s cell phone and water bottle close to Central Avenue and Zach Curlin Street, the area where authorities claim Abston forced Fletcher into a black 2013 GMC Terrain.

DNA found on those sandals was a match to Abston and Abston’s employer confirmed to authorities that he drove a GMC Terrain, according to an arrest affidavit. His arrest report also said that Abston was wearing the same sandals at the Malco theatre the night before.

Law enforcement said that Terrain was found at an address listed for Abston, Abston’s cell phone was in the area where Fletcher was abducted around the time that she was abducted and that a witness saw Abston thoroughly cleaning the vehicle the day after she was taken.

The affidavit stated:

“As the abduction was violent with, as captured on video, the suspect waiting for, then rushing towards the victim, then forcing the victim into the car, where she was confined and removed and continues to be missing, it is believed and supported by the facts and physical evidence that she suffered serious injury. Further, it is probable and apparent from witness statements that these injuries left evidence of blood in the car the defendant cleaned.”

Fletcher’s family has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to her return.

“We want to start by thanking everyone for their prayers and outpouring of support. Liza 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 of the other law enforcement agencies who are working tirelessly to find Liza. The family has met with police, and we have shared with them all the information we know. More than anything we want to see Liza returned home safely. The family has offered a reward for any information that leads to her safe return. We believe someone knows what happened and can help.”

The investigation into Abston’s alleged kidnapping of Fletcher also led police to arrest Abston’s brother, 36-year-old Mario Abston. Marion Abston was arrested for 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 being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felonly.

Memphis Police said they do not believe Mario Abston is connected to Fletcher’s abduction.

FOX13 Investigates discovered that Cleotha Abston was previously charged with especially 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 have to serve 85% of his sentence, meaning he would have served 20 years, according to reports.

He got out sometime in the past two years.

He plead guilty to aggravated kidnapping, which is an 11-year sentence, that he likely served concurrent to the kidnapping.