Woman: I Was Raped by Man Accused of Killing Eliza Fletcher

Alicia Franklin says police didn't do enough to get Cleotha Abston Henderson off the streets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2022 1:15 AM CDT
Updated Sep 22, 2022 5:03 AM CDT
Woman Says Man Who Raped Her Went On to Kill Eliza Fletcher
This booking photo provided by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, shows Cleotha Abston on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.   (Shelby County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Alicia Franklin says she met Cleotha Abston Henderson on a dating app last year, and when they met last September for what was supposed to be a date, he raped her at gunpoint. In a lawsuit she recently filed against the city of Memphis, Franklin accuses police of failing to investigate the case properly—and says that if they had, Eliza Fletcher would still be alive, NBC News reports. Henderson is accused of abducting Fletcher while she was out for an early morning run in the city earlier this month, and murdering her. He had just been released from prison in Nov. 2020 after serving two decades in another kidnapping case. In her lawsuit Franklin says she reported the attack and sought medical attention immediately after the rape, and that a sexual assault kit was gathered—in fact, it was DNA from that rape kit that allegedly linked him to Fletcher's murder.

But Franklin says when she led police to the scene of the crime, they "took no physical evidence directly from the crime scene itself." She says she also gave police Henderson's first name (she knew him as "Cleo"), his phone number, and social media accounts including his dating app profile, but she was told there was not enough evidence to charge him with rape—and the rape kit was not processed until recently, she says. "They had more than enough evidence that night when they interviewed me to get him off the streets. But they didn't," the 22-year-old tells Good Morning America. Henderson was eventually charged with kidnapping, rape, and other crimes related to Franklin's assault, and appeared in court for the first time last week, after he'd already been linked to Fletcher's murder. He pleaded not guilty in Franklin's case. (Read more Eliza Fletcher stories.)

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