The mother of the man accused of kidnapping and killing Tennessee hardware heiress Eliza Fletcher called her son a “good person” — and does not believe the career criminal is guilty of murder in the high-profile case, according to a report.

Virgie Abston, 65, told the Daily Mail that her 38-year-old son, Cleotha Abston, is being “railroaded” for the violent crime that rocked the city of Memphis earlier this month.

“I talked to him and he said he didn’t do it,” Virgie Abston said of her son. “He said [to me]: ‘They’re trying to put me in some stuff, mom,’” she told the outlet from outside of her low-income apartment building.

“I believe him,’ she added. “I don’t believe he did it. If it comes out of his mouth, that’s what I believe.”

Cloetha Abston has been behind bars since his Sept. 2 arrest on charges of kidnapping and murder of the 34-year-old elementary school teacher and mother of two while she was out for an early morning jog near the University of Memphis.

Cleotha Abston appears in Judge Louis Montesi's courtroom for his arraignment on Sept. 6, 2022 in Memphis,
Cleotha Abston previously spent 20 years in prison for kidnapping a lawyer in 2000.

Days later on Sept. 9  he was charged with raping a woman at gunpoint in 2021 in a separate case. He had previously served 20 years in prison for kidnapping a prosecutor in 2000 when he was just 16-years-old 

“He’s just a good person, kind, lovable,” Virgie Abston said of her son, denying media portrayals of her son as a monster.

Virgie Abston sells candy and sodas to neighborhood children from her ground-floor apartment, the Daily Mail reported. She said she has been struggling since both of her sons have landed in prison.

“I just take one day at a time, one day at a time baby,” she said. “’Things have been going on so much.”

Eliza Fletcher
Eliza Fletcher was out jogging on Sept. 2 when Abston allegedly forced her into his car and then killed her.
St. Mary’s Episcopal School

Her son Mario was arrested on unrelated drug and weapons charges after police executed a search warrant at his home after Cloetha Abston was spotted cleaning his car and clothes there.

While she defended her sons, she also distanced herself from their actions.

“The boys are on their own. What they do, I do not know,” she told the Daily Mail. “They haven’t told me nothing. I don’t know nothing,” she said.

Cleotha Abston mugshot
Abston was arrested and charged with Fletcher’s abduction and murder on Sept. 2.

She noted that Cleotha had spent most of his life behind bars after the 2000 abduction.  He has a juvenile record dating back to when he was just 12 — with charges including aggravated assault with a weapon and rape, according to court records obtained by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“They held Cleo in the juvy,’ she told the Daily Mail. “They railroaded him, had him sign the papers without no parent around, without our consent. We didn’t know he signed no papers. We didn’t know nothing.”

“He left me when he was 16,” she said . “They took 20 years of my son’s life. They need to fix that prison [system].”

Memphis police officers search an area where a body had been found in South Memphis,
Fletcher’s body was found in behind an abandoned building in southern Memphis on Sept. 5.

Fletcher, the granddaughter of a billionaire, was jogging around 4:20 a.m. on Sept. 2 when Cleotha Abston approached her and forced her into his GMC Terrain before speeding away, cops said.

He was arrested the next day after DNA linked him to a pair of sandals found near the scene of the kidnapping.

Fletcher’s body was found in a wooded area behind an abandoned home in southern Memphis on Sept. 5  in an area close to where police said Cleotha Abston was caught on surveillance camera cleaning his clothes and the inside of the car.

It remains unclear exactly how or where Fletcher died.


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