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Black Memphis Woman Said Her Rape Case Was Not A ‘Priority’ Until The Same Man Killed Heiress Eliza Fletcher

Black Memphis Woman Said Her Rape Case Was Not A ‘Priority’ Until The Same Man Killed Heiress Eliza Fletcher

A sexual assault victim has spoken out after it took investigators months to make the connection between her alleged rapist and the murder of a wealthy white woman.

Black woman Alicia Franklin was abducted and raped by a man she met through a dating app last year, prompting her to flee Memphis. The 22-year-old is trying to lift herself out of poverty by enrolling in college courses that can be completed online.

Nearly a year after Eliza Fletcher’s disappearance and murder, the same man was charged with the crime. It was Fletcher’s grandfather who started the hardware empire that made him a billionaire. There were results from DNA testing done on evidence at the scene of the crime within hours, according to the reports.


Franklin told the press, “I was just an average Black girl in the city of Memphis, you know.” My guess is that it simply wasn’t a top priority.

The Memphis police worked on Fletcher’s murder for 18 hours before they found the killer. It took police over 11 months, and Fletcher’s death, to determine who had raped Franklin. The suspect in both cases was well-known to the police.

On September 2nd, after Fletcher failed to return from her regular morning jog near the University of Memphis, her husband filed a missing person’s report. Minutes after Fletcher was reportedly kidnapped, police reportedly destroyed any video evidence. The following day, police took Cleotha Abston-Henderson into custody.

Abston-Henderson wore the sandals that were later found with his DNA on them near the crime scene. His cellphone records corroborated his location near the crime scene.


Abston-brother Henderson’s lived in the building where Fletcher’s body was found. He had been seen cleaning the victim’s SUV before the murder. She was all over the news for it. “Finish Eliza’s Run” was created as a memorial to the murdered woman and a call to action for the advancement of women’s rights, and thousands of people responded.

On September 21, 2021, after Franklin went to the police about the rape she had experienced, she was taken to the Rape Crisis Center for an evaluation. She went on PlentyofFish to find the man’s profile for the police, but it had been deleted. The victim of the rape provided the detectives with the suspect’s contact information. They returned with Franklin to the scene of the crime, but left without taking fingerprints from the phone she claimed he had touched or the scene itself.

Franklin is convinced that if she had followed the missing instructions, she could have solved her case and put Abston-Henderson in jail months earlier. There are also those in law enforcement who share this view.

The man Franklin knew only as Cleo reportedly appeared in a photo lineup, but she initially mistook him for another suspect because he was shown with locs and she had only seen the real suspect with short hair. The detective reportedly made a note in the file to obtain a more recent photograph, but according to Franklin, no one ever did. She repeatedly tried to get information about the progress of the search, but no new information was ever provided.


The people “didn’t care,” Franklin claimed. When I followed up with them four months later, they warned me that processing a rape kit could take up to two years. That’s when I gave up and stopped trying.

Franklin and Abston-Henderson first communicated in late summer of last year, and by September of that year, they had set up a date to meet at an Olive Garden. Franklin’s date, however, invited her over when she revealed that she would be making the trip on a “doughnut” tire.

According to the affidavit filed by law enforcement after Abston-arrest, Henderson’s this location is very close to where he was found after being suspected in the murder of Fletcher.

Franklin entered what she described as complete darkness.


Franklin claimed, “He put a gun to my neck and said, ‘B—-, don’t move.’”

The man covered the woman’s head with a black T-shirt, dragged her out of the house through the back sliding door, and attacked her in the car. Franklin was taken back inside while her attacker rummaged through her purse, rearranged her phone and keys, and made off with cash.

She explained, “I ran out when I heard the car pull away and the slide door open and him get in.”

According to the TBI, the average processing time for a rape kit at their crime lab “ranged from approximately 33 weeks to 49 weeks” between September 2017 and August 2018. The Memphis Police Department reportedly tried to locate Fletcher by taking the unusual step of expediting DNA testing in her case.


Since Abston-Henderson, then 16 years old, pleaded guilty in 2001 to kidnapping Memphis attorney Kemper Durand during an attempted robbery and served 20 years in prison, his DNA was already in the FBI database. In 2020, he will be freed after serving his time for the crime.

The man, now 38 years old, has a criminal history that dates back to when he was 11 years old. It was reported that between 1995 and 2000, he faced criminal charges annually. He was accused of rape when he was just 14 years old.

On September 9, Abston-Henderson was rebooked for sexually assaulting Franklin. It has been confirmed by authorities that the testing of his DNA in the rape case occurred after the Fletcher murder, proving that he was indicted after Franklin’s allegations.

Unfortunately, an official CODIS hit did not arrive until after the tragic event of September 2, 2022. Memphis Police Major Karen Rudolph stated that “probable cause to make a physical arrest of any suspect did not exist until after the CODIS hit was received.”


Two retired Memphis detectives told the media that if they had canvassed the area where Franklin was raped for leads, they would have had enough evidence to arrest Abston-Henderson months earlier.

According to one expert on the case, police have solid proof of Abston-guilt. Henderson’s Someone else told The Memphian, “They have a good case.”

Franklin expressed her sorrow for Fletcher and the other victims. To her Facebook page, she attached a photo of the billionaire heiress and the caption:

I haven’t eaten or slept all night because of this lovely spirit. Given what I now know she went through, my heart breaks for her and her children, especially the babies. The words “may your soul rest in eternal peace, Eliza” were written over her grave.


Franklin now has high hopes that her experience will aid others. There was some guidance she gave them as well.

The justice system is not going to help you, so you have to fight for yourself, she said. “That’s just what I’ve found in practice,” I said. It’s imperative that you advocate for your own rights. No one else is going to advocate for you, so you’ll have to do it yourself.

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