“Eliza Fletcher’s killer raped and kidnapped another woman”

Cleotha Abston has been charged with kidnapping and raping another woman about a year before killing Eliza Fletcher in Memphis, Tennessee (Image: AP)

Cleotha Abston has been charged with kidnapping and raping another woman about a year before killing Eliza Fletcher in Memphis, Tennessee (Image: AP)

The man accused of kidnapping and killing Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher is now accused of kidnapping and raping another woman at gunpoint a year ago.

Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with first-degree murder and several other charges related to kidnapping and tampering with evidence in connection with Fletcher’s disappearance.

On Friday, Abston was indicted on additional counts of rape, aggravated kidnapping and illegal possession of a firearm, stemming from an incident more than a year before he killed the teacher and billionaire heiress.

He was only recognized in 2021 as a rape after his arrest for Fletcher’s murder, because his DNA was not in the coroner’s system until now.

The Memphis Police Department confirmed that a sexual assault report taken on September 2, 2021 and filed two days later contained DNA matching Abston.

“An official CODIS hit was not received until after the unfortunate event that occurred on September 2, 2022,” the police department told ABC 24.

“Probable cause for the physical arrest of any suspect did not exist until after the CODIS hit was received.”

CODIS is the DNA indexing system that investigators used to determine that DNA found on sandals left at the crime scene matched Abston’s DNA.

The evidence against Abston was placed in an “unknown assailant kit queue, as no request was made to expedite the TBI analysis and no suspect information or DNA template was included in the submission.”

U.S. Marshals were able to use a pair of slide sandals recovered from the scene where Abston allegedly kidnapped Fletcher to identify him as a suspect in the case. DNA taken during his arrest linked him to the earlier crime.

Investigators say Fletcher’s abduction and murder was “an isolated incident” as she and Abston had never met before the attack.

According to police, Fletcher suffered “serious injuries” after the abduction, although the exact cause of her death has not been released.

Abston previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping a prominent Memphis attorney in 2000 when he was 16. He was sentenced to 24 years, but was released in early 2020.

Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher, was the granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III, a Memphis businessman and material philanthropist. Her family’s business has been described as “the world’s largest independent hardcore distributor with $3 billion in annual sales,” according to the company’s website.

She was also a mom to two little boys and worked as a primary school teacher.

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