Eliza Fletcher murder suspect allegedly connected to 2021 rape, police didn't request 'expedited' DNA review

Source: www.foxnews.com : 2022-09-10 20:38:15 :

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The Memphis man who is being charged in the murder and kidnapping of a Memphis mother of two is facing new charges stemming from an alleged kidnapping and rape in Sept. 2021, but police didn’t request an “expedited” analysis of the sexual assault kit at the time.

Cleotha Henderson, 38, was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday on aggravated rape and kidnaping charges which relate to a Sept. 21, 2021 incident. A Memphis Police Department public information officer told Fox News Digital that the charges are “unrelated” to the Eliza Fletcher case.

A public information officer also said that its criminal investigative unit took a sexual assault report on Sept. 21, 2021, and a sexual assault kit was submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Sept. 23, 2021.

The public information officer also said that probable cause to make “any” arrest didn’t exist until the DNA hit was received. 

ELIZA FLETCHER MURDER SUSPECT SLAPPED WITH ‘UNRELATED’ KIDNAPPING AND RAPE CHARGES

Eliza Fletcher in an undated photograph; Accused killer Cleotha Henderson in Memphis court

Eliza Fletcher in an undated photograph; Accused killer Cleotha Henderson in Memphis court
(Liza Fletcher/Instagram; Fox News Digital)

Fletcher was allegedly abducted by Henderson, who was driving a GMC Terrain, at 4:20 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 2. Police say that she was “abducted and forced into” the dark-colored GMC Terrain.

Memphis police say that a surveillance camera captured the same GMC Terrain in the area of the abduction 24 minutes before Fletcher was taken.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) told Fox News that the Memphis Police Department didn’t request an expedited analysis of the sexual assault kit from the September 2021, and “no suspect information or DNA standard was included in the submission.”

Since the analysis wasn’t expedited and was placed into the “queue of unknown assailant kits,” a forensic scientist with the TBI began its review of the sexual assault kit on June 24, and finished an “initial report” on Aug. 29. Afterward, the unknown male DNA profile was entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, which resulted in a positive match of Cleotha Henderson on Sept. 5. The TBI then reported its findings to the Memphis Police Department.

The TBI spokesperson told Fox News that when it receives an expedited request for analysis on a sexual assault kit, it usually takes five business days to process “depending on the amount of evidence submitted.”

“This includes an analysis of all evidence, a mandatory review process, and entering any established DNA profile or profiles into CODIS.  The requesting law enforcement agency is then notified of whether a CODIS match is found,” the spokesperson said.

ELIZA FLETCHER ABDUCTION: TIMELINE OF THE MEMPHIS TEACHER’S DISAPPEARANCE

The spokesperson said that the TBI “accepts rush DNA cases when requested by a local investigative agency,” as one was performed on the Champion slides sandals that was found at the scene where Fletcher was abducted on Sept. 2.

Henderson was taken into custody on the morning of Sept. 3 by law enforcement officers, but he declined to tell police where the missing mother was, which resulted in a massive search operation.

An affidavit states that two people, including Henderson’s brother, Mario, told police that Henderson was seen cleaning the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner. Fletcher “suffered serious injury” and “left evidence, e.g., blood, in the vehicle that the Defendant cleaned,” according to court documents.

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Fletcher’s body was found at around 5:07 p.m. Monday in the “rear of a vacant duplex apartment,” which was around the same area where Henderson was allegedly seen cleaning out the GMC Terrain.

Henderson is being held without bond in a Memphis jail and is due back in court on Sept. 19, and now faces two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated rape, two counts of theft, first degree murder, unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon, identity theft, tampering with evidence, and fraudulent use of a credit/debit card.

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz, Stephanie Pagones, and Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.

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