Man charged with killing Memphis jogger held without bond

Sep 7, 2022, 9:53 AM | Updated: 1:23 pm
FILE - Cleotha Abston appears in Judge Louis Montesi courtroom for his arraignment on Tuesday, Sept...

FILE - Cleotha Abston appears in Judge Louis Montesi courtroom for his arraignment on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Memphis, Tenn. The judge revoked bond Wednesday for Abston, charged with killing a Memphis woman who was abducted during a pre-dawn run near a university campus. Abston, who told a Shelby County General Sessions judge that he prefers to be referred to as Cleotha Henderson, will be held without bond on charges including first-degree murder in the abduction and slaying of Eliza Fletcher, 34.(Mark Weber/Daily Memphian via AP)

(Mark Weber/Daily Memphian via AP)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge revoked bond Wednesday for a man charged with killing a Memphis woman who was abducted during a pre-dawn run near a university campus.

Cleotha Abston, who told a Shelby County judge he prefers to be referred to as Cleotha Henderson, will be held without bond on charges including first-degree murder in the kidnapping and slaying of Eliza Fletcher, 34.

General Sessions Judge Louis Montesi had ordered him held on $510,000 bond Tuesday on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence, theft and fraud.

Henderson had faced only those charges before police on Tuesday identified a body found a day earlier behind a vacant duplex as Fletcher. He was then charged with first-degree murder and made his first court appearance on that charge Wednesday. The judge said the name change to Henderson would be placed in the court record.

The suspect’s public defender has filed a sealed motion regarding his future representation. Details of the motion have not been disclosed. The public defender has not commented publicly on specifics of the charges against Henderson.

Memphis police said Fletcher, a wife, mother of two and a kindergarten teacher, was jogging near the University of Memphis campus when a man forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle about 4 a.m.

Fletcher was reported missing when she did not return home from her regular morning run, and her cellphone and water bottle were discovered in front of a house owned by the university, authorities said.

U.S. Marshals arrested Henderson, 38, on Saturday after police detected his DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Fletcher was last seen, an arrest affidavit showed.

After more than three days of searching, police found Fletcher’s body just after 5 p.m. Monday. Police did not publicly confirm that the body was Fletcher’s until Tuesday morning.

Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said it was too early in the investigation to determine how and where Fletcher was killed. Davis said her body was found behind a vacant duplex. A police affidavit said officers noticed vehicle tracks next to the duplex’s driveway and they “smelled an odor of decay.”

Purple running shorts consistent with those Fletcher was wearing were found in a discarded trash bag nearby, the affidavit said.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Tuesday that Fletcher’s case was an “isolated attack by a stranger.” He stood by that comment Wednesday as he addressed the news media outside the courtroom.

The suspect previously kidnapped a prominent Memphis attorney in 2000, when he was 16 years old. He spent 20 years in prison for that crime, but he had been sentenced to 24. Some have questioned the release. Mulroy has noted Henderson served 85% of the sentence, which Mulroy said was “not unusual.”

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Man charged with killing Memphis jogger held without bond