Memphis Woman Says Police Failed To Investigate Her 2021 Rape By Eliza Fletcher’s Killer

DNA from a 2021 rape kit was not determined to match Cleotha Henderson until Sept. 5, 2022, three days after he is accused of kidnapping and murdering Fletcher.

This booking photo provided by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, shows Cleotha Abston (Henderson) on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

DNA from a 2021 rape kit was not determined to match Cleotha Henderson until Sept. 5, three days after he is accused of kidnapping and murdering Fletcher.

Photo by: Shelby County Sheriff's Office via AP

Shelby County Sheriff's Office via AP

Alicia Franklin, 22, has filed a lawsuit stating that police did not do enough to investigate after she was raped in 2021 by 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson, the man who is now accused of murdering Eliza Fletcher on Sept. 2, 2022.

“I don’t really want to get in the spotlight of this, but I felt that it could help a lot of women come forward.” Franklin told NBC affiliate Action News 5 and let them use her name.

The lawsuit claims that the “Memphis Police Department failed to investigate the rape adequately and with due diligence.” It also states that officers didn’t use existing evidence on a “timely basis” in order to arrest Henderson in time to stop him from killing Fletcher and possibly committing other crimes.

Franklin was allegedly raped on Sept. 21, 2021, when she went to meet Henderson after the two had been chatting for a month via the dating app where they met, reported The Washington Post. They had planned to go out to dinner, but when she arrived, he instead pulled a gun on her and forced her into his car. He then allegedly raped and robbed her.

Although Franklin reported the rape to the police and agreed to a rape kit, which yielded Henderson’s DNA, the lawsuit states that they waited too long to test her rape kit. The DNA evidence wasn’t matched with him until Sept. 5, 2022, which was a few days too late for Eliza Fletcher, who Henderson is accused of murdering on Sept. 2, 2022. The suit also alleges that the police took no evidence from the 2021 crime scene itself.

Franklin, who is Black, pointed out how Fletcher was a white woman from a wealthy family.

“I was just an average Black girl in the city of Memphis, you know. I just think it wasn’t a priority,” Franklin told the Institute for Public Service Reporting and the Daily Memphian.

Franklin also stated that she followed up several times with police after initially reporting her rape but that they brushed off her concerns. Her attorney, Jeff Rosenblum, told The Washington Post that his client was “heartbroken” by Fletcher’s abduction and murder, and that the tragedy motivated Franklin to file the lawsuit to hold Memphis police accountable.

On Sept. 8, 2022, Henderson, appeared in a Shelby County courtroom Monday after he was indicted on charges of aggravated rape, kidnapping and unlawful possession of a weapon for the 2021 crime. He remains in the Shelby County Jail on no bond for the murder charges against him in the Fletcher case.

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