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Woman’s Rape Kit Sat Untested For Almost A Year Before Eliza Fletcher’s Murder

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Woman’s Rape Kit Sat Untested For Almost A Year Before Eliza Fletcher’s Murder screenshot via WTNA By Bry'onna Mention· Updated September 20, 2022

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering heiress Eliza Fletcher—a year after allegedly raping another woman at gunpoint—was due before a judge in Memphis on Monday. 

The suspect, Cleotha Abston-Henderson, 38, faces charges of abduction and murder for the death of Memphis heiress, Eliza Fletcher. He now has been charged with an additional count of aggravated kidnaping and rape in a separate case that took place a year prior.

The alleged victim came forward on Monday, publicly identifying herself as Alicia Franklin. The 22-year-old told the Daily Memphian that had detectives taken her assault more seriously, things might have turned out differently for Fletcher. 

Franklin told the news outlet that she had been chatting with a man, who has since been identified through DNA evidence as Cleotha Henderson, through the dating site PlentyofFish. On a whim after much persistence from Henderson, Franklin finally agreed to meet up with him for a date. But, the initial meet up spot at an Olive Garden got derailed by a temporary “doughnut” tire on Franklin’s car. She then agreed to meet him at his apartment instead.

When Franklin walked into what she believed was his apartment, she alleges Henderson pulled a gun and told her, “B—h, don’t move.” Franklin says that he threw a black T-shirt over her head and directed her through a back sliding door, into a white Dodge Charger where he assaulted her.

Franklin said that once she realized Henderson had left her, she called the police and later underwent an examination at the Rape Crisis Center.

When she tried to show the dating profile on PlentyofFish it had already been deleted. However, she was able to give the police his phone number and led them back to the crime. But, she says Memphis Police Department left the scene without gathering fingerprints.

According to the Daily Memphian, when Franklin met up with detectives trying to identify her assaulter in a photo lineup, she struggled. The man Franklin suspected in the lineup had locks; but the man who attacked her did not. MPD made note of it and was supposed to follow up with Franklin with an updated photo.

MPD never did. 

In the months after the assault, she would periodically follow up with the MPD for an update. There she learned that the lead detective on her case was promoted and no longer working her case. 

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

Franklin has since moved out of Memphis to Mississippi. 

Though tragic, Franklin’s case speaks to a wider issue nationwide. According to End the Backlog, a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a national nonprofit organization founded by Law & Order: SVU star, Mariska Hargitay, many rape and murder cases with DNA tests take months and sometimes more than a year to get a DNA match. 

The institute for Public Service Reporting Memphis reported that, part of the delay stems from a massive backlog in DNA testing caused by MPD’s reluctance for years to test rape kits. The overwhelming majority of those rape victims were Black women.

Henderson, previously served 20 years for an aggravated kidnapping in 2000 targeting a lawyer.

The post Woman’s Rape Kit Sat Untested For Almost A Year Before Eliza Fletcher’s Murder appeared first on Essence.




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