Cleotha Abston, the Memphis, Tennessee, felon accused of kidnapping and murdering pre-kindergarten teacher Eliza Fletcher, wrote about getting out of prison on Facebook and posted photos of guns. He went by the nicknames “Wild” and “Pookie.”
He was already a felon who’d spent 20 years in prison for kidnapping a local defense attorney, according to news articles from the time.
Abston is accused of abducting the mother of two while she was jogging in the early morning hours of September 2, 2022.
Authorities have identified a body discovered in Memphis, as missing jogger Eliza Fletcher, Memphis police announced on September 6, 2022. They have now added murder charges against Abston.
In a press conference on September 6, 2022, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said, “Today is a very sad day in the city of Memphis.” She expressed condolences to the family and friends impacted by the “heinous” kidnapping and murder of Fletcher. At 5:07 p.m. on September 5, police discovered human remains at the rear of a vacant duplex apartment 1600 block of Victor Street. The body was then positively identified as Fletcher, Davis said.
The police chief said it was too early to determine the place and cause of death for Fletcher.
Here’s what you need to know:
Abston Was Accused in the Kidnapping of a Defense Attorney Named Kemper Durand, Who Escaped
Shelby County, Tennessee, court records reviewed by Heavy show that Abston was charged with “especially aggravated kidnapping” in 2000. He entered a guilty plea, court records show. He received 24 years in prison, starting in November 2001.
According to Fox13 Investigates, Cleotha Abston was eligible for release after 85% of his 24-year prison sentence and got out “sometime in the past two years.”
He also was charged with aggravated robbery. His sentence for that count was 11 years, but it appears to have run concurrently, stemming from the same offense.
The May 2000 article in the Commercial Appeal said that Abston was 16 at the time of the kidnapping. He was one of three juveniles, one only 12 years old, who were charged in the robbery and carjacking of Memphis defense attorney Kemper Durand.
The story said that Abston was believed to be the gunman.
Durand was confronted just before 2 a.m. as he left the Handy Awards Ceremony. The gunman “took his billfold and ordered Durand into the trunk of his 1992 Mercedes-Benz, where he spent the next two hours,” the story, obtained through Newspapers.com, says. The gunman then “picked up the two other suspects.”
They tried to withdraw money from ATM machines and took Durand to a gas station.
Durand was able to call to a Memphis Housing Authority security guard in the store. The robbers left on foot “while the guard called 911,” the story says.
Abston was arrested after a tip to CrimeStoppers.
According to Memphis Flyer:
Durand was walking to his car around 2 a.m. on May 25, 2000, after attending a party on Beale Street when a lone gunman walked up behind him, took his wallet, and forced him into the trunk. The abductor, Cleotha Abston, drove around and picked up friends then, after about two hours, escorted Durand into a Mapco station to withdraw money from an ATM. A uniformed Memphis Housing Authority officer entered, Durand yelled that he had been kidnapped, and the kidnappers ran away.
Durand is now deceased. He was remembered in a tribute article as a tenacious defense attorney who fought for the rights of people wrongfully convicted.
Fletcher’s uncle, Mike Keeney, works for the same law firm that employed the Durand.
On Facebook, “Pookie” Abston is still friends with one of the co-actors in the Durand incident.
Abston Was Recently Accused of Taking a Woman’s Wallet & Also Has a Long Juvenile Record
According to a 2001 article in the Memphis Flyer, Abston also “has a long juvenile record of theft and aggravated assault.”
The Commercial Appeal reported that Abston “also appeared in juvenile court records in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 for charges including theft, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, and rape.”
Nathaniel Isaac, an uncle of Abston, told the Daily Mail in a September 5 story:
“My whole f****** family’s wacky. They always have been. They’re not beloved to me because they’re nuts. It’s the truth. Go check the police records for the Abstons. You’ll find they’re all perpetrators of something. My wife’s son stayed locked up. Mario is arrested now for drugs and carrying a gun. And Cleo, I’m 100 percent sure he had something to do with her abduction. Can I prove it? No.”
According to Fox 13 Memphis, on Thursday, September 1, 2022, the day before the Fletcher kidnapping, a woman told Memphis police “that her CashApp and Wisely Card were being used at gas stations without her knowledge or consent.”
She left her wallet at a Malco Theatre location, and police found that a member of a cleaning service — Abston — had taken her wallet, according to Fox13.
It’s not clear why he was not already under arrest for that offense.
The Pookie Abston Facebook Page Shared Graphics With Expletives; Fletcher Showcased Pictures of Her Family on Social Media & Wrote About Her Love of True Crime Podcasts
The Pookie Abston page doesn’t have much visible on it, except for the gun graphic and a couple of graphics with expletives. “Which part of f*** off do you not understand,” reads one.
Another post says: “Shhh…Dis weed. Is vewy vewy loud.”
On the second Facebook page, which is in the name of Cleo Real, he wrote, “Don’t loose your Queen Bee, chasing a butterfly, and end up with a roach. Let us spray!😄”
In 2019, he wrote, “I’m a prisoner in my own mind, I feel like these walls talking to me.”
Another post said: “Mfs always see my folks and be on some wats up with pookie wats up wit wild like they really f*** wit a n**** but don’t f*** wit no n**** I been gone all this time and have a FB page MF if u f*** with me u would’ve made sure I was straight fym get tf out of here with that bs been doin this shyt by my mfn self I’m screaming F*** u n**** and b****** keep the same energy wen they free me..”
On her Facebook page, Fletcher showcased photos of her husband, Richie Fletcher, and their two young children. Her most recent post, in 2021, other than a profile picture of her family, reads, “Need a new general practitioner. Can someone recommend a good, easy to get an appointment of Dr or NP?”
Police Say Cleotha Abston Ran ‘Aggressively’ Toward Fletcher & Forced Her Into the Passenger Side of the SUV
The police affidavit reveals chilling details. It says that they responded to a missing person report in the 1500 block of Carr Avenue at 7 a.m. on September 2. Richard Fletcher advised that his wife went for her regular run around 4 a.m. and did not return home.
At about 6:45 a.m., a bicyclist spotted her cellphone and a pair of men’s Champion slides laying in the street in the same area. Investigators then obtained video that showed a black GMC Terrain passing and then waiting for Fletcher to run by.
A male exited the Terrain and “ran aggressively toward the victim,” forcing her into the passenger’s side of the vehicle after a struggle. The Champion slides were found in that area. The vehicle then sat in a parking lot, with the victim inside it, for about four minutes.
Police obtained a partial license plate from other video, and they sent the Champion slides for DNA testing and got a hit in the CODIS database: Cleotha Abston (Henderson).
Authorities then worked on confirming Abston’s whereabouts “before, during and after the abduction.” They obtained surveillance footage of him wearing the same slides the day before the abduction at a Malco Theatre location. They found that he resided in the 5700 block of Waterstone Oak Way, a location with active utilities in the name of Gwendolyn Brown, who has a black 2013 GMC Terrain registered to her name.
They also located a September 1, 2022, police report for Abston that listed his address at Waterstone Oak Way. The affidavit doesn’t explain that report.
The owner of Majesty’s Cleaning Service verified that she employed Abston and that he drove a GMC Terrain.
Police determined Abston’s cell phone was near the area where Fletcher was forced into the Terrain at the time of the abduction.
At 10:45 a.m. on September 3, the GMC Terrain was located by members of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Officers detained Abston when they saw him standing in a doorway. He tried to flee but was taken into custody.
A woman told police that she saw Abston at around 7:50 a.m. on the day of the abduction. He was at a different home — that of his brother, Mario Abston. He was cleaning the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner and “behaving oddly.”
Mario Abston stated that he saw Cleotha Abston cleaning the interior of the car with floor cleaner. Both Mario and the woman saw Abston washing his clothes in a sink in the house. Mario stated that Abston was “acting very strange.”
Police announced that Abston was charged in connection with Fletcher’s disappearance on their Facebook page.
“The individual who was detained has been officially charged in connection with the abduction of Eliza Fletcher. At this point in the investigation, Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with Especially Aggravated Kidnapping and Tampering with Evidence,” they wrote.
“Eliza Fletcher has not been located at this time. MPD Investigators and officers, along with our local and federal partners, continue searching for Mrs. Fletcher.”
A second individual, currently not believed to be connected to Fletcher’s abduction, was also arrested during this investigation. Mario Abston, 36, was charged with 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 Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Dangerous Felony.
This remains to be an active and ongoing investigation.
We continue to ask for assistance from the community. If anyone has any information concerning this investigation, they should call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH.
On Facebook, Abston referred to Mario as his brother.
He shared a YouTube video of a rap video created by Mario. It has since been deleted.
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