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Man arrested for kidnapping billionaire heiress was released from prison in 2020 after abducting lawyer

38-year-old Cleotha Abston was arrested and charged in 2000 for the kidnapping of attorney Kemper Durand in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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The man arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping of billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher in Memphis has been revealed to have been released from prison in 2020 after serving a 20-year sentence for abducting a lawyer.

38-year-old Cleotha Abston was arrested and charged in 2000 for the kidnapping of attorney Kemper Durand in Memphis, Tennessee.

According to the Memphis Flyer, Abston approached Durand from behind at around 2 am on May 25, 2000, robbing him and forcing him into the trunk of his car.

Abston then drove Durand around for several hours, later forcing him to take out cash from an ATM.

During the incident, Durand spotted a housing authority officer and yelled for help, causing Abston to flee.

Abston was charged for the kidnapping, and was released in July of 2020, according to Tennessee Department of Corrections.

According to the Daily Mail, Abston was recently charged with "especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence" following the Friday disappearance of Fletcher.

Fletcher was last seen at around 4:20 am on Friday while she was jogging in Memphis. Police say that a man approached her and forced her inside of an SUV following a struggle between the two.

Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher and mother, is the an heiress to Orgill hardware company, which her grandfather had build up into a global brand.

Surveillance footage has been recovered that showed the entirety of the "violent" abduction of Fletcher, with an affidavit stating that cops have identified Abston as the kidnapper through a pair of sandals left behind at the scene.

Authorities said that Abston left behind a pair of Champion brand slides, which are a type of sandal, amidst the struggle with Fletcher, and his DNA was able to be recovered from them.

Investigators also revealed that Abston’s cell phone had been in the area of the kidnapping.

The affidavit also described an interview investigators had with a woman, who described Abston’s behavior as "odd" and "strange" in the hours following the abduction, and described him frantically cleaning the interior of his car and clothing.

When authorities went to Abston’s last known address, they found the SUV with the broken tail light seen in surveillance videos of the incident, and apprehended Abston after he attempted to flee.

Abston has yet to reveal where Fletcher is or what he did to her. The affidavit, according to the Daily Mail, said that blood was found inside of Abston’s vehicle indicating that Fletcher had suffered a "serious injury."

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