The Memphis attorney kidnapped at gunpoint by Cleotha Abston Henderson more than two decades back worked at the exact same law agency as Eliza Fletcher’s uncle, it has been exposed.
Kemper Durand, who died in 2013, was the sufferer of Abston Henderson’s initially acknowledged kidnapping again on 24 Could 2000.
In the early hours of the morning, Abston Henderson, then 16, and his accomplice Marquette Cobbins approached Durand and pressured the attorney into the trunk of his very own car or truck.
They then drove the target all over for a number of hrs right before using him to an ATM at a Mapco gasoline station to rob him.
The victim was thankfully saved when he noticed an armed Memphis Housing Authority guard at the station and shouted for assistance, prompting his attackers to flee.
Durand, who went on to testify at his attackers’ demo, labored as a prison defence attorney at Memphis legislation agency Lewis Thomason.
Ms Fletcher’s uncle Michael Keeney now functions as counsel for the exact same legislation organization.
His business bio states that he methods in the place of civil litigation, managing issues in condition and federal court docket.
Mr Keeney was just one of Ms Fletcher’s relatives members who gathered for an emotional press meeting on Saturday the place they begged for assistance in bringing the mom-of-two house safe.
The bizarre connection was first exposed by NewsNationNow. There is no indication that the hyperlink has everything to do with Ms Fletcher’s abduction and murder, with investigators indicating they believe that it to be an “isolated attack by a stranger”.
Having said that, Durand lengthy thought that Abston Henderson would have also killed him if he experienced the prospect in the course of the 2000 assault.
In a 2003 sufferer effect statement, he claimed that he was “lucky” to escape from Abston Henderson and that “it is pretty most likely that I would have been killed experienced I not escaped”.
Durand extended considered that Abston Henderson was the mastermind powering the assault and – in an strange twist – testified at trial that Cobbins should be handed a more lenient sentence because he was basically in the completely wrong spot at the mistaken time.
An obituary for Durand, posted by Lewis Thomason in 2013, uncovered how “the target grew to become the advocate for one particular of his assailants”.
“Kemper then additional explained how during those several hours he used in the trunk of his vehicle, he heard the two men talking. The person who was now about to be sentenced experienced pleaded with his close friend to ‘stop the automobile, permit this man out, give him his keys, and go!’” it go through.
Abston Henderson pleaded responsible in 2001 to especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated theft. He was sentenced to 24 years in jail.
Just two a long time afterwards, Abston Henderson submitted a petition for submit-conviction reduction, prompting Durand to affect statement detailing his belief that he would have been killed if it was not for the probability come across with the armed guard.
“My inner thoughts about being the victim of this crime, and the emotions of those about me, are that I was extremely blessed that I was equipped to escape from the custody of Cleotha Abston. I experienced been taken from the trunk of my vehicle, wherever he and his co-defendant experienced positioned me for a amount of hrs, and made to drive to the Mapco station,” he wrote.
“The purpose was that I was to use my ATM card to get dollars for Cleotha Abston. It was extremely lucky that an armed, uniformed Memphis Housing Authority guard happened to come into the Mapco station when Cleotha Abston, Marquette Cobbins (the second defendant), and I were working with the ATM device.
“It is fairly most likely that I would have been killed had I not escaped.”
Durand also pointed to Abston Henderson’s prolonged rap sheet prior to the kidnapping, owning been in and out of the juvenile system because he was all-around 11 a long time aged on charges of theft, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, and rape.
Abston Henderson was just 14 several years previous when he committed a juvenile delinquent act of rape towards an unnamed male, in accordance to court paperwork.
The charge was sustained and the teenager was put in the custody of Shelby County’s Youth Companies Bureau.
Court documents reveal that Abston Henderson was a member of the the “LMG” gang – “Lemoyne Gardens Gangstas” – and invested his youth in and out of the Shelby County juvenile method.
He was to start with introduced before Shelby County Juvenile Court docket on theft charges at the age of 11 and was in and out of the juvenile technique from a youthful age.
For the up coming five years amongst October 1995 and May well 2000, he was detained an additional 16 times on fees such as rape, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.
The teen experienced been released from the juvenile process just two months right before his assault on Durand.
He served 19 several years in jail for the kidnapping and was launched in November 2020 – considerably less than two many years ahead of Ms Fletcher’s murder.
Additional than two decades on, the kidnapping of Ms Fletcher appears to be chillingly identical to Mr Durand’s terrifying expertise at the hands of Abston.
Ms Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher and granddaughter of the Orgill components empire, was snatched even though out on her standard early morning jog close to the University of Memphis campus on Friday.
At around 4.20am, surveillance footage captured a black 2013 GMC Terrain SUV driving earlier her as she ran by the spot.
The SUV pulled up and a male was noticed receiving out of it, ahead of he “ran aggressively” toward the jogger.
A violent struggle broke out and the man pressured Ms Fletcher into the passenger aspect of the motor vehicle.
The auto then remained stationary in a parking great deal with the two within for close to 4 minutes ahead of driving off, law enforcement stated the footage shows.
On Monday afternoon, the mom-of-two’s body was discovered dumped in the rear of a vacant duplex in South Memphis, walking length from the residence of Abston’s brother.
Abston experienced been noticed by multiple witnesses and on surveillance footage cleaning his automobile and outfits in the hrs immediately after her abduction.
No cause of death has been released and Abston is reported to be refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
Abston has been billed with initial-degree murder, 1st-diploma murder in perpetration of kidnapping, specifically aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence.
He was arraigned on Wednesday morning on the murder fees and was requested to be held with out bond pending a bond hearing on Thursday.
The decide also clarified that would now be referred to with the final name Abston Henderson, at his request.
He is also charged with identity theft, theft of residence less than $1,000 and fraudulent use of a credit rating card for an unrelated incident.
In a push meeting on Tuesday, Memphis Law enforcement Main Cerelyn “CJ” Davis stated that legislation enforcement ended up happy to be “removing this harmful predator off the streets of Memphis”.