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As it happenedended1662644391

Eliza Fletcher latest: Cleotha Abston’s teen rape conviction revealed as he’s arraigned for teacher’s murder

Abston appeared in court on Wednesday morning where he asked to be known by his paternal surname Henderson

Namita Singh,Bevan Hurley
Thursday 08 September 2022 14:39 BST
Man appears in court charged with murder of heiress Eliza Fletcher

Cleotha Abston was convicted of raping a man when he was a teenager – almost three decades before he allegedly kidnapped and murdered Memphis business heiress Eliza Fletcher.

Now 38, Abston was just 14 years old when he committed a juvenile delinquent act of rape against an unnamed male, according to court documents.

Abston appeared in Shelby County Circuit Court on Wednesday morning for arraignment on first degree murder charges, where he asked that he be known by his paternal surname of Henderson.

Judge Louis Montesi revoked his bond, and ordered another hearing on Thursday.

Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother of two and granddaughter of billionaire Joseph Orgill III, was violently abducted while out jogging near the University of Memphis campus and forced into an SUV at 4am on Friday.

Her family released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying that they are “heartbroken and devastated” by her murder.

“We are grateful beyond measure to local, state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible for this horrible crime,” the statement continued.

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Teacher, heiress and mother: Who was Eliza Fletcher?

Eliza Fletcher was well known in the Memphis community as both a respected teacher and the heiress to a local business fortune.

The 34-year-old mother of two was the granddaughter of the late local businessman and philanthropist Joseph “Joe” Orgill III, who founded the Memphis hardware supply company Orgill.

The private, family-ran business is now worth $3.2bn and employs 5,500 people, with the Orgill family well-known in the local area.

The company website describes Orgill as the “world’s largest independently owned hardlines distributor, providing retailers across North America and in more than 60 countries throughout the world access to over 75,000 products and industry-leading retail services”.

Instead of working in the family business, however, Ms Fletcher became a local kindergarten teacher at St Mary’s Episcopal School.

She was married to Richard Fletcher III and they have two boys together.

Eliza Fletcher, who was abducted and murdered while jogging in Memphis on Friday, with husband Richard Fletcher (Eliza Fletcher / Instagram)
Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 15:39
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Cleotha Abston is back in court for arraignment on first degree murder charges

Cleotha Abston has just entered the Shelby County Circuit Court in Memphis for arraignment on first degree murder charges.

He is wearing prison garb and masked, and a lawyer is speaking to him in the dock.

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 15:44
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Suspect is asking that his name be changed in the record to Cleotha Henderson

The judge says the suspect has asked that he be known as Cleotha Henderson, rather than Cleotha Abston.

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 15:47
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Judge revokes Eliza Fletcher suspect’s bond

Cleotha Abston (Henderson) is being arraigned on first degree murder charges in Shelby County Circuit Court.

A judge has revoked his $500,000 bond from earlier kidnapping charges, pending a bond hearing.

“In light of the change of circumstance, I’m going to order that there be no bond. The $500,000 bond is revoked,” the judge said.

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 15:50
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The hearing has concluded and the suspect has been led out of the courtroom

The Shelby County Circuit Court judge has ended today’s hearing, and ordered another hearing on Thursday to determine what Cleotha Abston’s bond should be set at.

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 15:54
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Everything we know about suspect in murder of Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher

Cleotha Abston, who has been charged with the abduction and murder of heiress Eliza Fletcher, spent 20 years in prison for kidnapping and robbery before being released in 2020.

Here’s everything we know about Mr Abston, who has since asked that he be known as Cleotha Henderson.

Cleotha Abston: Everything we know about suspect in kidnapping of Eliza Fletcher

Suspect in murdered heiress case spent 20 years in prison for kidnapping and robbery before being released in 2020, according to authorities

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 16:32
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Eliza Fletcher: Timeline of events in abduction and murder of Memphis heiress

Memphis police confirmed on Tuesday morning that a body found during an “intensive” city-wide search was positively identified as missing mother of two Eliza Fletcher. Ms Fletcher, 34,was abducted while out jogging near the University of Memphis campus early on Friday morning (2 September) in what police have described as a random attack.

Here is a timeline of events in the case.

Eliza Fletcher: Timeline of events in abduction and murder of Memphis heiress

Cleotha Abston has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher. Here is a timeline of events in the case

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 16:50
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Video emerges of Eliza Fletcher singing to her students and playing with her dog

Video has surfaced of Eliza Fletcher, the Tennessee kindergarten teacher who was kidnapped and killed last week, recording a song for her students.

In the clip, Fletcher, a junior teacher at St Mary’s Episcopal school in Memphis, sings “This Little Light of Mine” and tells students about her dog. The video, which has been viewed more than 530,000 times on Twitter.

Josh Marcus has the story.

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 17:15
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Cleotha Abston’s teenage rape conviction revealed as he is held without bond for murder

Cleotha Abston Henderson was convicted of raping a man when he was a teenager – almost three decades before he allegedly kidnapped and murdered Memphis business heiress Eliza Fletcher.

Abston Henderson, now 38, was just 14 years old when he committed a juvenile delinquent act of rape against an unnamed male, according to court documents.

The charge was sustained and the teenager was placed in the custody of Shelby County’s Youth Services Bureau.

Rachel Sharp has the story.

Eliza Fletcher suspect Cleotha Abston’s previous conviction revealed

The 38-year-old appeared in court on Wednesday morning for his arraignment on murder charges in the abduction and death of the 34-year-old kindergarten teacher

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 17:45
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The shocking precautions female runners like me are being forced to take

“So when the news hit that a female jogger had been abducted from a Tennessee street early last Friday morning (we now know that it was Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother of two, and we also know that she was tragically killed) it spread like wildfire amongst the running community on social media,” writes Gemma Abbott for Independent Voices.

“But not purely because this was such shocking and disturbing news. Most people just simply couldn’t believe it had happened – again. Another female runner abducted or assaulted as she went about doing the thing she loved. Sadly, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen news reports of women being attacked while out running in the last few years.”

Opinion: These are the shocking precautions female runners must now take

The tragic news spread like wildfire among the running community. Most people simply couldn’t believe it had happened – again

Bevan Hurley7 September 2022 18:10

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