In the case of the death of teacher Eliza Fletcher, Cleotha Henderson has been brought to court on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree murder while kidnapping.
A man has been charged with murder concerning the death of Memphis kindergarten teacher Eliza “Liza” Fletcher. He is thought to have taken her hostage and killed her.
On September 7, 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson, who police had been calling Cleotha Abston, went to court for his second arraignment. There, NBC News said, a Shelby County, Tennessee, the judge took away the $510,000 bond set before he was charged with murder. He was given a public defender, but he hasn’t said anything. He has to go back to court on September 8.
Fletcher, 34 years old, went jogging around 4 a.m. on September 2 in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis. A police affidavit said that later, police found surveillance footage that showed a man getting out of a black GMC Terrain, running toward her, and forcing her into the passenger side of the car. He did not go back home.
Henderson was arrested on September 3 for suspected involvement in Fletcher’s disappearance. Authorities said that they found his DNA in an FBI database and matched it to DNA found on slide sandals on the street near where he was taken.
Police also found a black GMC Terrain in a parking lot near the man’s house. It had the same damage and part of a license plate that could be seen on the surveillance video. The affidavit said that Henderson tried to run away before he was caught.
Henderson was first charged with kidnapping and changing evidence concerning the woman’s disappearance. On September 6, police said on Twitter that they had found Fletcher’s body behind an empty duplex. NBC News says that Henderson was then charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in the act of kidnapping.
The reason why Fletcher died has not been said yet. In their affidavit, the police wrote that her “abduction was violent” and that “facts and physical evidence suggest that she was seriously hurt.”
After Fletcher, a mother of two died, her family said something about her. “Liza brought so much joy to so many people—her family, friends, coworkers, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church congregation, and everyone else who knew her,” it said. “Now is the time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to help those who cared so much about her.
How the Four-day Search for the Victim Unfolded
Fletcher had been running around 4 a.m. Friday in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis. Authorities said in an affidavit filed Sunday and changed Tuesday that her husband told police Friday morning that she hadn’t come home.
The following day, someone found her phone on the street. They gave it to one of Fletcher’s relatives, who then gave it to the police.
According to the affidavit, police found surveillance video from that area showing a black GMC Terrain driving by her. The video shows a man getting out of the SUV and running “aggressively” toward her. According to the affidavit, he then forces her into the passenger seat of the SUV.
The affidavit says that both people were in the SUV for about four minutes before it left a parking lot.
Police also looked at a pair of sandals that were found near the victim’s phone at the place where she was taken. The affidavit says that Henderson’s DNA was found on the shoes.
Henderson’s boss told investigators that he drove a GMC Terrain, and his phone number was also confirmed. The affidavit says that investigators looked at Henderson’s cell phone records, which showed that he was near where Fletcher was taken when he was born.
The affidavit says that a US Marshals task force found a GMC Terrain near Henderson’s house on Saturday morning. It had the same damage that could be seen on the surveillance footage, and the license plate matched the partial plate information that could be seen on the video.
According to a court document, the task force arrested Henderson Saturday near his home.
According to the affidavit, police talked to two people, including Henderson’s brother, who said they saw him acting strangely at his brother’s house in Memphis after the kidnapping.
The affidavit says that both said Henderson cleaned the inside of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner and washed his clothes in the sink at home.
Eliza Fletcher Twitter
Take a look at the Eliza Fletcher Twitter account.
Eliza Fletcher: A body found by police Monday has been identified as the 34-year-old missing Memphis jogger.
Full story: https://t.co/BwH5sAOlUE#ElizaFletcher #abducted #Memphis pic.twitter.com/yfp6Rn4pHd
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) September 6, 2022
Body Found Near Vacant Home: Clothing Found Discarded Nearby
According to the affidavit, searchers found Fletcher’s body on Monday after 5 p.m. They did this after getting information from an FBI team that looks at cell phone data.
Using the brother’s cell phone information, the searchers focused on an area near an intersection less than a mile from his home. The team smelled an odor of decay from an area near a vacant house, saw vehicle tracks in the high grass near the driveway, and eventually found the body on the property, according to the affidavit.
The police said the property was in the 1600 block of Victor Street. That’s about a half-mile from the address the police gave for his brother’s house, 7.5 miles from where he was taken, and about 15.5 miles from Henderson’s house.
The affidavit says that a detective found purple running shorts in a trash bag about three-tenths of a mile from where the body was found. The shorts looked like the ones Fletcher was wearing when she was taken.
Suspect Served Prison Time in Previous Kidnapping Case
Court records also reveal that Henderson served a prison sentence for an aggravated kidnapping over 20 years ago.
Record records show that Henderson pleaded guilty to the charge in November 2001 and was released from jail in November 2020.
The Shelby County district attorney’s office told WREG that Henderson was found guilty of kidnapping an attorney in 2000.
Shelby County jail records show that Henderson is also facing charges this month that has nothing to do with Fletcher’s case. These include identity theft, theft of property worth less than $1,000, and fraudulent use or illegal possession of a credit or debit card worth less than $1,000.
Those charges are related to a woman filing a theft report last week. She said someone was using her Cash App card and Wisely Card at gas stations without her knowledge.
CNN has talked to the Shelby County district attorney and the Memphis police about the theft charges.