Cleotha Abston

Cleotha Abston, 38 is accused of abducting, raping, and murdering a 34-year-old mother and teacher on September 2.

Cleotha Abston

Abston had spent the majority of his life in and out of prison, dating back to when he was 11 years old. Among the previous charges are aggravated assault, theft, burglary, evading arrest, and rape.

Virgie Abston, Cleotha’s mother, did address one of her son’s more notable convictions: The violent 2000 kidnapping of Memphis-based attorney Kemper Durand.

Abston, then 16 years old, helped put Durand into the trunk of a car at gunpoint before driving the victim around the city to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Durand managed to flee while Abston and his younger accomplice were apprehended at one of the ATMs.

Despite Durand’s petition to the court, Abston was sentenced to 24 years in prison for that crime and was released in 2020.

Investigators say Abston ambushed kindergarten teacher Eliza Fletcher during one of her routine pre-dawn runs near the University of Memphis on Friday, Sept. 2 — two years after his release.

Surveillance video showed the suspect forcing Fletcher into a dark-colored GMC Terrain, remaining in the parked vehicle for approximately four minutes, and then driving away with Fletcher still inside.