A former FBI investigator said she has found a link between the kidnapping for which the suspect in Eliza Fletcher’s murder went to prison and Fletcher’s abduction.
Jennifer Coffindaffer told NewsNation that a person who was kidnapped by Cleotha Abston in 2000 worked in the same law firm as an uncle of Fletcher.
“I think this is a very significant clue, and I’m sure certainly that the FBI, the U.S. Marshals and the [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] is looking closely at this relationship,” Coffindaffer said.
The Daily Mail identified Abston’s previous victim as Kemper Durand and Fletcher’s uncle as Michael Keeney.
According to the Mail, Abston was 16 when he and an accomplice kidnapped Durand in 2000. Durand later said that until he was rescued, he feared for his life.
Coffindaffer condemned the release of Abston before the end of his sentence in the Durand case. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison but was released in 2020.
“Any time someone is let out early and then goes on to commit another violent crime, yes, I think society’s let down,” she said. “I think we are all let down by his early release.”
Officials confirmed Tuesday that a body found Monday in Memphis was that of Fletcher, who had been abducted Friday morning while running.
“We have no reason to think this was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger,” Shelby County District Attorney Gen. Steve Mulroy said Tuesday, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“Tragedies like this are going to happen, but we are going to do everything we can to make sure that people can walk the streets without looking over their shoulder and going about their daily business without fear.”
According to WHBQ-TV, Fletcher’s body was found when law enforcement officials saw car tracks in an area of high grass and smelled the odor of decay.
Fletcher’s body was lying next to a set of steps to a vacant house where officials said Abston had been with his brother Mario.
A discarded trash bag was discovered near the house. Inside the bag, police found purple running shorts that appeared to be the ones worn by Fletcher when she was last seen.
Abston has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping.
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