Cleotha Henderson DNA linked to 2021 rape

Cleotha Henderson DNA linked to 2021 rape
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 10:49 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One year later, charges of aggravated kidnapping and rape, including a gun charge, have been added to Cleotha Henderson, the same man behind bars for the kidnapping and killing of Eliza Fletcher.

During the active investigation into Eliza Fletcher’s abduction, the Memphis Police Department notified the TBI of a sexual assault kit that was submitted back in September of 2021.

The kit was unrelated to Fletcher but still open, and possible that Cleotha Henderson could’ve been involved.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a sexual assault kit that MPD submitted for evidence on September 23, 2021, was put into a queue of unknown assailants.

No request was made for TBI analysis to be expedited, and no DNA was included in the submission.

But then, 11 months later, a match. After pulling over a dozen sexual assault kits, this kit was designated to be analyzed on June 24, 2022.

A forensic scientist completed an initial report on August 29 and entered the results of the unknown male’s DNA profile into CODIS, which returned a match on Monday, September 5, for Cleotha Henderson.

It’s the same day Memphis Police discovered Eliza Fletcher’s body lying near an abandoned house in South Memphis.

According to the TBI, if no rush is requested on a case, the average turnaround time to receive DNA results is between 33 and 49 weeks.

In a statement, the agency said:

“TBI accepts rush DNA cases when requested by a local investigative agency, as we did in the recent Eliza Fletcher case. Last weekend, the work of our scientists identified Cleotha Henderson as the suspect less than 18 hours after receiving key evidence, which was critical in his subsequent apprehension.”

Henderson is scheduled back in court on September 19.

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