An alleged Tennessee killer, accused of murdering Memphis mother, Eliza Fletcher, was in court Monday morning in connection to a rape he allegedly committed last year.
Fox News reports that suspect Cleotha Henderson, 38, appeared before two Shelby County judges during the past several days. Monday’s hearing was for the Fletcher case. Another hearing last week was for an alleged 2021 rape and attack on victim, Alicia Franklin, and a weapons charge in connection with the same case.
For the Fletcher case, Henderson’s public defender requested additional time and the hearing was rescheduled to September 28.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told WREG in a statement that it didn’t complete testing on the sample from the 2021 rape until August 29 of this year, 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.
“He put a gun to my neck,’’ Franklin said on Sunday while speaking to The Daily Memphian. “I really thought he was going to shoot me in the back of my head.”
Franklin added that she felt the Memphis Police Department failed her and other victims since they didn’t catch Fletcher until he attacked, and ultimately, killed another person.
“I was just an average Black girl in the city of Memphis, you know,” she said. “I just think it wasn’t a priority.”
“I called back again like maybe four months later, and … they was like, ‘Well, just keep in mind that it can take anywhere from a year or two to process a rape kit.’ So at that point, I gave up.”
Fox News Digital obtained a copy of Henderson’s indictment which read, “On Sept. 21, 2021, in Shelby County, Tennessee, and before the finding of this indictment, did unlawfully and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly sexually penetrate [the victim] by use of force or coercion, while armed with a weapon.”
For Fletcher’s death, Henderson has been charged with murder, premeditated murder, murder in perpetration of a kidnapping, as well as aggravated kidnapping and tampering with/fabricating evidence.
“I’ve been up all night thinking about this beautiful soul I can’t sleep I can’t eat! my heart pours out for her and her family especially those babies because I know what she experienced firsthand! may your soul rest in everlasting peace Eliza,” Franklin posted on Facebook after hearing about the murder.
Henderson remains behind bars without bail.
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[Featured image: Eliza Fletcher/TBI; Handout]