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Man accused of murdering Eliza Fletcher detained without bond

MEMPHIS, Tenn. –

A Tennessee judge revoked bonds Wednesday against a man accused of killing a Memphis woman who was abducted during a pre-dawn getaway near a college campus.

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

General Sessions Judge Louis Montesi ordered him to hold a $510,000 bond on Tuesday on charges of more serious special kidnapping, evidence tampering, theft and fraud.

Henderson only faced those charges before Fletcher’s body was identified by police Tuesday as the body found a day earlier behind an empty double-family home. He was later charged with first-degree murder and he appeared in court for the first time on that charge on Wednesday. The judge said the name change to Henderson would be included in court records.

The suspect’s public defender has filed a petition to be sealed in relation to his future representation. Details of the motion are yet to be revealed. The Public Defender has not commented publicly on the specifics of the allegations 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 approx. 4 a.m.

Fletcher was presumed missing when she failed to return home from her usual morning run, and her cell phone and water bottle were discovered in front of a university-owned home, authorities said. .

US officers arrested Henderson, 38, on Saturday after police discovered his DNA on a pair of sandals found near where Fletcher was last seen, an arrest affidavit shows. .

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

Memphis Police Superintendent Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said it was too early in the investigation to determine how and where Fletcher was killed. Davis said the body was found behind an empty house. A police affidavit said officers noticed vehicle tracks next to the apartment’s driveway, and they “smelt a rotten smell.”

The affidavit said that purple running shorts that resembled the ones Fletcher was wearing were found in a nearby trash bag.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy on Tuesday said Fletcher’s case was an “isolated attack by an unknown person.” He stood by that comment Wednesday while addressing the media outside the courtroom.

The suspect previously kidnapped a prominent Memphis lawyer in 2000 when he was 16 years old. He served 20 years in prison for that charge, but he was sentenced to 24. Some have questioned his release. Mulroy has noted that Henderson has served 85 percent of his sentence – which Mulroy says is “not unusual” – and that the DA office opposes his pardon.

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