The man charged with murdering Eliza Fletcher is now facing additional charges of kidnapping and rape from a separate incident.
Cleotha Henderson AKA Cleotha Abston – the 38-year-old suspect in the murder of the Memphis mother of two – was hit with new charges of kidnapping and raping another woman at gunpoint.
Court documents show that Henderson was indicted on charges of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and an additional gun charge in connection to an alleged crime committed nearly exactly a year ago.
On the same day that Fletcher’s body was found behind an abandoned house in South Memphis, a DNA match reportedly pinned Henderson to a rape case from Sept. 21, 2021, according to WREG. The Memphis Police Department sent the sexual assault kit to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation two days after it was taken.
“Henderson’s kit was one of 316 submitted to TBI from all Shelby County law enforcement agencies, which was the most of any county in Tennessee. Knox County was in second with 168 kits,” according to the Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it took nearly a year to test the rape kit because it was not submitted by the Memphis police as a “rush case.” The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the typical turnaround time for DNA tests is 33 to 49 weeks.
The TBI noted that Fletcher’s case was expedited as a rush case, and linked DNA from a sandal left at the crime scene with Henderson.
“Our scientists identified Cleotha Abston as the suspect less than 18 hours after receiving key evidence,” the TBI said.
Henderson is facing first-degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping charges in connection with the death of Eliza Fletcher.
Fletcher was a teacher and 34-year-old mother of two who disappeared during an early morning job in Memphis on Sept. 2. Fletcher’s body was found near an abandoned house on Monday.
Henderson is currently being held in the Shelby County Jail without bond.
Henderson has a lengthy criminal record.
Henderson was released from prison early after serving 20 years of a 24-year sentence for an armed kidnapping of Memphis attorney Kemper Durand that he committed when he was 16 years old.
“The suspect was 16 at the time, and already had been charged as a juvenile five times for aggravated assault and was found responsible for another rape case when he was just 14,” Fox News reported.
Abston Rape Kit test results