Posted on September 12, 2022

Man Charged in Eliza Fletcher’s Kidnapping, Killing, Charged in 2021 Case After DNA Match

Lucas Finton, Memphis Commercial Appeal, September 9, 2022

The man charged in the abduction and killing of Memphis jogger and teacher Eliza Fletcher was a suspect in a 2021 kidnapping and sexual assault, police said, but wasn’t indicted until Thursday because his DNA wasn’t tested until recently.

Cleotha Henderson, 38, was rebooked at the Shelby County Jail on Friday on charges of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping and unlawful carrying of a weapon.

Cleotha Henderson

Cleotha Henderson

The charges appeared in the Shelby County criminal justice portal Friday. The court records show the indictment was handed down Thursday.

In an email statement to the Commercial Appeal, a Memphis Police Department spokesperson confirmed the charges related to a sexual assault report from that date and said a sexual assault kit was sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation two days later.

“An official CODIS (national DNA database) hit was not received until after the unfortunate event that occurred on September 2, 2022,” the statement read. “Probable cause to make a physical arrest of any suspect did not exist until after the CODIS hit had been received.”


A TBI spokesperson confirmed the agency received the sexual assault kit September 23, 2021, but the evidence was placed in a “queue of unknown assailant kits, as no request was made for TBI analysis to be expedited, and no suspect information or DNA standard was included in the submission.”

The kit was eventually pulled from evidence storage, according to TBI, along with 19 other kits on June 24 and the first results were received August 29. When the 2021 DNA was entered into a national database, it returned a match for Henderson and TBI reported this to MPD.

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. . {snip}


Henderson was released from state prison in 2020 after serving more than two decades for kidnapping Memphis attorney Kemper Durand.