Woman Allegedly Raped in 2021 by Memphis Jogger Murder Suspect Sues City

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The murder of Memphis jogger, Eliza Fletcher, on September 2, was widely reported. Her alleged killer was caught and detained. He had a criminal record. 

Some speculate that Eliza’s death could have been prevented. 

A black woman from Memphis, Tennessee, who was allegedly raped at gunpoint by Eliza’s suspected killer, has filed a lawsuit against the Memphis City Police Department for negligence and not investigating her case for almost a year since she made the complaint.

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

Alicia Franklin, 22-years-old, filed the lawsuit against Memphis police, accusing them of ignoring her case and said that the department might have been able to prevent the death of Eliza Fletcher if they had investigated her case sooner.

Speaking to the Daily Memphian, Franklin said that accused killer, Cleotha (Abston) Henderson, raped her in September 2021, and she reported the assault to Memphis police. They allegedly did not investigate her assault case adequately and did not test her rape kit.

According to the lawsuit, if the police had tested her rape kit, they would have arrested and charged Henderson with Alicia Franklin’s rape long ago.

Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old mom, was abducted on September 2, 2022, while on her morning run. When it was reported to the police, they promptly ran a DNA test, and within 18 hours, they identified Henderson as a suspect. 

Eliza was white and the daughter of a billionaire. 

Henderson was already in the police system because he had previously been convicted of armed kidnapping when he was 17 years old, and he had spent 20 years in prison.

The police, however, ignored Franklin’s rape kit for almost a year and only completed it three days after Eliza Fletcher’s kidnapping. Henderson was identified on September 5 when they put it into the statewide DNA system.

Alicia Franklin spoke to Action News and recounted her experience with her alleged rapist. She said that she and Henderson connected through a dating app and agreed to meet for a date. They met at an apartment complex he said he worked at, and instead of taking her to dinner, he threatened to kill her with a gun, forced himself on her in the backseat of his car, and stole her money.

She vividly recalled thinking he would shoot her in the back of her head. She begged him repeatedly not to kill her, but at some point, she felt powerless and hopeless, and told him to get on with killing her if he was going to do it.

Franklin said that it was important for her speak out, and stated, “I don’t really want to get in the spotlight of this,” Franklin said, “but I felt that it could help a lot of women [to] come forward.”

Police reports show that Franklin was raped on September 21, 2021, in an empty apartment next to Henderson’s.

Henderson’s mother, Virgie Abston, told Daily Mail that she would stand by her son, who was a kind and good person who could never do such a thing. She said that her son was innocent and the crimes were being pinned on him.

Alicia Franklin said that she gave the police Henderson’s dating profile, phone number, and first name, and took them to the crime scene, but they did not take any fingerprints. The lawsuit says that Memphis police had enough information to identify and arrest Henderson, but they ignored it.

The City of Memphis is the sole defendant in Franklin’s lawsuit, and she seeks an unspecified amount in compensation and damages.

Her attorneys also filed a separate lawsuit against the condo owner Franklin was raped in for improper security maintenance.

The disturbing allegations raise a lot of questions and concerns. 

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