Memphis murder suspect Cleotha Henderson’s mother tells reporter son is ‘just a good person’

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The Memphis mother of accused murderer Cleotha Henderson — who has a decades-long rap sheet and convictions for a string of heinous offenses in addition to new charges of kidnapping, murder and rape — says her son is innocent, according to a new report.

“He’s just a good person, kind, lovable,” Virgie Abston, 65, told a Daily Mail reporter Tuesday, according to the outlet.

That’s despite a string of felony offenses that include the armed abduction and robbery of a lawyer named Kemper Durand in 2000; a rape conviction at just 14 years old; and the latest accusations that he abducted and killed jogging mother Eliza Fletcher earlier this month and kidnapped and raped another woman last year. He had also been charged with about a half-dozen counts of aggravated assault, and he told investigators that he dropped out of school in ninth grade.

“‘I talked to him, and he said he didn’t do it,’ the mother reportedly told the outlet. “He said, ‘They’re trying to put me in some stuff, Mom.’”

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Cleotha Henderson, who is charged with the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher in Memphis earlier this month, is shown in court on Sept. 19, 2022.

Cleotha Henderson, who is charged with the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher in Memphis earlier this month, is shown in court on Sept. 19, 2022. (Karen Pulfer Focht for Fox News Digital)

Fox News Digital visited Abston’s apartment on the outskirts of Memphis earlier this month, but neighbors claimed she had moved away.

Her other son, Mario Abston, who has served felony time for possessing an illegal sawed-off shotgun, is also jailed on charges stemming from Henderson’s alleged crimes. Police searched his apartment as part of a manhunt for his brother and found 27 grams of fentanyl and a loaded gun, according to authorities.

Durand, who died in 2013, urged the court to sentence Henderson to the maximum punishment possible in 2001.

Images captured exclusively by Fox News Digital show Mario Abston, the brother of accused kidnapper and killer Cleotha Henderson, in court on Sept. 8, 2022.

Images captured exclusively by Fox News Digital show Mario Abston, the brother of accused kidnapper and killer Cleotha Henderson, in court on Sept. 8, 2022. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

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“I understand that [Henderson’s] record goes back to 1995, when he was about 13 years old, and shows juvenile court matters in every year — 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999,” Durand wrote in a 2001 victim impact statement obtained by Fox News Digital. “He obviously never learned any lesson from his encounters with the law.”

Durand told the court that while he suffered no physical injuries, he had recurring bad dreams about his abduction and criticized Henderson for showing no remorse.

Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old Memphis mother, was kidnapped and murdered on Sept. 2, 2022.

Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old Memphis mother, was kidnapped and murdered on Sept. 2, 2022. (Memphis Police Department, TBI)

“It took Cleotha Abston from June 2000 to September 2001, some 15 months, to get around to pleading guilty to the crime to which he confessed on May 29, 2000,” Durand wrote. “He rejected a plea agreement because he ‘didn’t want to sign for any time.’ This, I understand, is jailhouse braggadocio — being a tough guy and showing off to the other jail inmates.”

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Prior to the revelation of unrelated rape and abduction charges against Henderson earlier this month, criminal profiler John Kelly predicted in an interview with Fox News Digital that the repeat offender may have had additional victims.

“The thing about these sexual predators, it seems it doesn’t matter how much time they do,” said Kelly, a psychotherapist who has interviewed multiple serial killers. “When they get out, they’re back on the hunt.”

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