New charges against the accused killer of Memphis mom Eliza Fletcher come from the results of a DNA test on genetic material from a rape last September.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told WREG in a statement that it didn’t complete testing on the sample from that rape until August 29, and Cleotha Henderson was identified as the suspect on September 5 — the same day investigators found Fletcher’s body behind an abandoned house in south Memphis.
Henderson was identified as the suspect in Fletcher’s September 2 abduction within 18 hours because the Memphis Police Department requested a rush on the sample, TBI said, something it didn’t request for the September 21, 2021, rape.
Had they done so, Henderson would have already been in jail.
TBI told WREG that Memphis Police submitted a rape kit from the rape last year on September 23, but because police requested no rush, the sample went into its standard casework, which has an average turnaround time of 33 to 49 weeks.
Scientists at TBI’s lab pulled the sample for analysis on June 24 — nine months after it was sent in — and finished its initial report on August 29.
Fletcher was abducted on September 2, prompting a desperate search for the 34-year-old mother of two. The rush analysis of DNA found on a sandal left behind at the scene of the abduction led investigators to Henderson.
After finishing its initial report, TBI entered the DNA sample from last year in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) which returned a match on September 5, within hours of investigator’s finding Fletcher’s body — 49 weeks after the rape.
TBI reported the results to Memphis Police, and Henderson was indicted on charges of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and a gun charge in connection to the previous crime, court documents reveal.
Further information about the 2021 case was not available.
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[Featured image: Cleotha Henderson in court/WATN screenshot]