Alleged rape victim of Eliza Fletcher’s suspected killer sues Memphis

·2 min read

The woman who said she was raped by the same man charged with killing heiress Eliza Fletcher sued the city of Memphis on Tuesday.

Alicia Franklin, 22, said Cleotha Henderson, also known as Cleotha Abston, tricked her into a date over an online dating app and then kidnapped her at gunpoint and raped her on Sept. 21, 2021.

Last week, Henderson was charged with rape in connection with the attack, but Franklin was not publicly named as the victim.

She spoke with the Daily Memphian on Sunday and ripped Memphis police for letting her rape kit sit untested for nearly a year while rushing through the DNA identification in Fletcher’s case.

Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother of two and granddaughter of billionaire Joseph Orgill III, was jogging near the University of Memphis on Sept. 2. Her body was found Sept. 5.

“I was just an average Black girl in the city of Memphis,” Franklin told the Daily Memphian. “I just think it wasn’t a priority.”

If authorities had tested Franklin’s rape kit earlier, DNA would have identified Henderson as her attacker. Henderson was in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s database because he served 20 years in prison for a 2001 kidnapping.

In the lawsuit, which claims the city of Memphis was negligent in her case and demands unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, Franklin argued that if authorities took her case more seriously, they could’ve saved Fletcher’s life.

Henderson “should and could have been arrested and indicted for the aggravated rape of Alicia Franklin many months earlier, most likely in the year 2021,” the lawsuit said, according to the Daily Memphian.

“I definitely believe [Fletcher] would have still been alive today,” Franklin told “Good Morning America.”

In the suit, Franklin also argued that cops had enough evidence to arrest Henderson even without the DNA profile. She said she provided his phone number, dating app profile, a description of the car he drove and his first name, “Cleo.”

DNA testing in Franklin’s case was completed on Sept. 5, the same day Fletcher’s body was found.

In Fletcher’s case, Henderson has been charged with first-degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping, along with other crimes. In Franklin’s case, he pleaded not guilty to rape and kidnapping charges.