MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A judge on Wednesday revoked the bond set for a man accused of kidnapping and killing Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher as he faces murder charges, according to WHBQ-TV.
Fletcher, 34, vanished while jogging Friday morning near the University of Memphis. Police later charged Cleotha Abston, 38, with murder and kidnapping in connection to her disappearance and death.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 11:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 7: A judge on Wednesday revoked the bond set for Abston while arraigning him on charges of murder and murder in perpetration of a kidnapping, WHBQ reported.
Cleotha Abston (Henderson) is being arraigned on first degree murder right now. The judge revokes his $510k bond due to the new charges he received yesterday. NO BOND. pic.twitter.com/JyIqTQ6yJi— Jeremy Pierre FOX13 (@JeremypierreFOX) September 7, 2022
Earlier, the judge had ordered Abston be held on a $500,000 bond on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence.
Abston, whose legal last name is Henderson, is also facing apparently unrelated theft charges, according to WHBQ. He is expected to appear again in court Thursday to discuss legal counsel, the news station reported.
Update 9:25 a.m. EDT Sept. 7: Abston is set to appear in court on Wednesday morning for an arraignment on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of a kidnapping, WHBQ reported.
The hearing is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. CDT, according to NBC News and Fox News.
Update 3:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 6: Authorities found Fletcher near the back stairs of a vacant home on the 1500 block of Victor Street on Monday afternoon after an officer smelled “an odor of decay,” officials said in court records obtained by WHBQ-TV.
The records offered new details in the search for Fletcher, who was found dead three days after authorities said she abducted during a jog near the University of Memphis.
In the surrounding area, investigators found a trash bag that contained purple running shorts consistent with those Fletcher was last seen wearing, WHBQ reported. Officials said Abston and his brother had earlier been seen near where the bag was found.
Update 1:35 p.m. EDT Sept. 6: At a news conference Tuesday, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said it remained too early to determine Fletcher’s manner of death or the exact location where she died, WHBQ-TV reported.
The chief said Abston was not cooperating with investigators. He is expected to appear in court Wednesday morning.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said that it appeared that Fletcher’s kidnapping and death constituted an isolated attack by a stranger, according to WHBQ. Fletcher was kidnapped while jogging early Friday morning, investigators said. Her body was found Monday.
In a statement obtained by WHBQ, Fletcher’s family said they were “heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss” and asked for privacy as they continue to grieve.
“Liza was a such a joy to so many - her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone who knew her,” the statement said. “Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her.”
Update 10:30 a.m. EDT Sept. 6: In his first court appearance, Cleotha Abston told a judge that he cannot afford bond, which has been set at $500,000, WHBQ-TV reported. He also said that he could not afford an attorney.
Update 10 a.m. EDT Sept. 6: Police on Tuesday confirmed that a body found in the search for missing teacher Eliza Fletcher has been identified as the 34-year-old.
Cleotha Abston, who is facing a kidnapping charge in connection to Fletcher’s death, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnaping, police said.
The confirmation came shortly after authorities canceled a missing person alert for Fletcher, marking the police department’s first public acknowledgment that she was no longer missing, WHBQ-TV reported.
@MEM_PoliceDept has canceled it’s City Watch for #ElizaFletcher. This means she is no longer considered missing.@FOX13Memphis pic.twitter.com/EzGFctCI35— Kayla Solomon (@KSolomonReports) September 6, 2022
Earlier, the news station reported that sources had confirmed that Fletcher had been identified as the person found dead Monday.
Update 7:15 a.m. EDT Sept. 6: Multiple law enforcement sources say a body discovered Sunday in South Memphis has been identified as Eliza Fletcher, WHBQ-TV is reporting.
Authorities have not confirmed Fletcher’s cause of death, according to the news outlet.
Update 8:42 p.m. EDT Sept. 5: Authorities discovered a body Sunday night while searching for 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher, a Memphis mother and teacher who police said was abducted while jogging near the University of Memphis on Friday, WHBQ-TV reported.
Authorities have not confirmed if the body found near Victor Street and Person Avenue in South Memphis is Fletcher’s.
DAY FOUR: Police are focused on this area just walking distance away from #CleothaAbston’s brother’s home in south Memphis. The streets blocked off include Dison, Person, and S Orleans. This is the same wooded area we observed the search yesterday. @FOX13Memphis #ElizaFletcher pic.twitter.com/CxRVtdoQxv— Kayla Solomon (@KSolomonReports) September 5, 2022
Update 5:54 p.m. EDT Sept. 5: According to court records, new charges were filed against Abston on Monday, including identity theft, theft of property and fraudulent use/illegal possession of credit/debit card of $1,000 or less, WHBQ-TV reported.
Abston, whose bond was set at $500,000, remained jailed Monday.
He is slated to appear in court Tuesday morning, the TV station reported.
Original report: Fletcher, 34, was jogging around 4:30 a.m. CDT Friday when an unidentified person approached her, WHBQ reported. Police said the woman was forced into a midsize SUV and taken from the scene. Fletcher is a teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis and a mother of two.
Around 11:30 p.m. CDT on Friday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation identified the van used to abduct Fletcher as a dark-colored GMC Terrain, WHBQ reported.
Fletcher has not been found, police said. Authorities said Fletcher’s personal items have been found, but she has not returned home, according to the television station.
“Eliza Fletcher has not been located at this time,” Memphis police tweeted. “MPD Investigators and officers, along with our local and federal partners, continue searching for Mrs. Fletcher.”
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.— Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) September 4, 2022
Photos released by Memphis police showed Fletcher jogging in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis, CNN reported. She was last seen wearing a pink jogging top and purple running shorts, police said.
Fletcher’s cellphone and water bottle were discovered in front of a house owned by the university, according to The Associated Press.
Police also announced that a second man, “currently not believed to be connected to Fletcher’s abduction,” was arrested Saturday. 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, police said.
Fletcher’s family released a statement and video on Saturday that was narrated by the woman’s uncle, Mike Keeney.
“We want to start by thanking everyone for their prayers and outpouring of support. Liza has touched the hearts of many people and it shows. We want to thank the Memphis Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, TBI, FBI, and all of the other law enforcement agencies who are working tirelessly to find Liza,” the statement said. “The family has met with police, and we have shared with them all the information we know. More than anything we want to see Liza returned home safely. The family has offered a reward for any information that leads to her safe return. We believe someone knows what happened and can help.”
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