by: Autumn Scott, Nexstar Media Wire
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – New surveillance footage shows the man accused of abducting and murdering Eliza Fletcher, whose body police identified Tuesday, cleaning out his car hours after the Memphis school teacher disappeared.
The video shows Cleotha Abston arriving at the Longview Garden apartments where his brother lives around 7:57 a.m. Friday morning, more than three hours after Fletcher was forced into an SUV while she was jogging near the University of Memphis.
He sits in the vehicle for a while and then goes to the trunk. It’s hard to see exactly what he is doing but he runs to his brother’s apartment unit shortly after.
A few minutes later, he comes back outside and spends more than an hour at the passenger side of the SUV.
According to court documents, a witness said Abston was in a strange mood and vigorously cleaned the interior of his car with carpet cleaner and washed his clothes in the house’s sink.
The video comes after Memphis Police confirmed Tuesday that Fletcher was found dead behind a home in South Memphis Monday night. The body was found during a search in South Memphis near where police said Abston was seen cleaning out his vehicle.
U.S. Marshals arrested Abston, 38, on Saturday after police detected his DNA on a pair of sandals found near to where Fletcher was last seen, according to an arrest affidavit.
Abston was released from prison in 2020 after serving 20 years for a previous kidnapping. On Tuesday morning, he made his first court appearance on charges of kidnapping, tampering with evidence, theft, identity theft, and fraudulent use of a credit card.
Several of Fletcher’s relatives were in the courtroom along with more than 20 media members as Abston was issued a $510,000 bond. Abston said he could not afford bond and he could not afford a lawyer. General Sessions Judge Louis Montesi appointed a public defender to represent Abston.
Court records showed Abston also has been charged with first-degree murder. He is scheduled to appear in court again Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.