Eliza Fletcher abduction: Memphis kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston charged with murder as official ID victim

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Cleotha Abston, the man accused of kidnapping for the Friday abduction of Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher, appeared briefly for a court appearance on Tuesday morning.

Abston appeared in court just moments after the Memphis Police Department confirmed that the body found near the crime scene late Sunday has been identified as missing teacher and young mother Eliza Fletcher. He wore a green jail-issued jumpsuit, a white undershirt and a face mask as he appeared before the judge.

A court-appointed attorney was enlisted to represent him. The judge scheduled a second court date for Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 9 am local time.

Abston was charged Tuesday morning with first-degree murder, in addition to his previous charges, records show. During Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutors announced additional charges of premeditated murder, and murder in perpetration of kidnapping.

ELIZA FLETCHER ABDUCTION: LIVE UPDATES

Cleotha Abston appears before a judge in Memphis, Tennessee, on Tuesday, Sept.  6

Cleotha Abston appears before a judge in Memphis, Tennessee, on Tuesday, Sept. 6
(Credit: Adam Saves for Fox News Digital)

Abston was previously charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with/fabricating evidence. Late Sunday, officials added three more charges against Abston: identity theft, theft of property of $1,000 or less, and illegal possession of a credit or debit card of $1,000 or less, records show.

Bail was previously listed as being set at $500,000, but grew to $510,000 overnight. It was not immediately clear if the bail amount would increase further in light of the new charge.

Fletcher, 34, was abducted while she was running near the University of Memphis early Friday morning. Agents with the US Marshals Service arrested Abston, 38, on Saturday after matching his DNA to a pair of sandals found near the scene, police documents state.

Surveillance footage showed a black GMC Terrain “passing and then waiting for the victim to run by,” according to a Memphis Police Department affidavit. “A male exited the black GMC Terrain, ran aggressively towards the victim, and then forced the victim Eliza Fletcher into the passenger side of the vehicle… there appeared to be a struggle.”

ELIZA FLETCHER ABDUCTION: TIMELINE OF THE MEMPHIS TEACHER’S DISAPPEARANCE

The affidavit later added: “The vehicle then sat in the parking lot with the victim inside for approximately four minutes before it drove off.”

Liza Fletcher kidnapping suspect Cleotha Abston

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

The “violent” abduction was caught on video and allegedly showed Abston “waiting for, then rushing towards the victim, then forcing the victim into the vehicle, where she was confined and removed and continues to be missing.”

Eliza Fletcher's family attends a vigil at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis.

Eliza Fletcher’s family attends a vigil at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis.
(Fox News Digital)

ELIZA FLETCHER ABDUCTION: BODY FOUND NEAR AREA OF CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

“It is believed and supported by the facts and physical evidence that she suffered serious injury,” the police affidavit states. “Further, it is probable and apparent from witness statements that these injuries left evidence, eg, blood, in the vehicle that the Defendant cleaned.”

Fletcher is from a prominent Memphis family, the granddaughter of a well-known philanthropist and business owner.

Fletcher is from a prominent Memphis family, the granddaughter of a well-known philanthropist and business owner.
(Liza Fletcher/Instagram)

People who knew Abston reported that they saw him just before 8 am Friday behaving oddly and cleaning the interior of his GMC Terrain with floor cleaner. They also reported that he washed his clothes in the sink of their home.

Photo provided by Memphis Police Department shows Eliza Fletcher

Photo provided by Memphis Police Department shows Eliza Fletcher
(Memphis Police Department)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Fox News’ Kim Wagner contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.