Black woman says authorities mishandled rape case involving suspect accused of later murdering White woman

Cleotha Abston (Henderson) (Source: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office)
Cleotha Abston (Henderson) (Source: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office)

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday reportedly claims the teacher who was abducted while jogging in Tennessee and murdered could have been avoided if authorities properly investigated the alleged rape of a Black woman who accused the suspect involved in the other case.

Alicia Franklin said she was raped last year by Cleotha Abston, the suspect accused of first-degree murder and kidnapping of Eliza Fletcher, reported WMC.

The suspect is also named as Cleotha Henderson in other reports.

Fletcher’s case made national headlines after the Tennessee teacher was forced into a vehicle during an early morning jog near the University of Memphis.

Franklin reportedly met Abston after a month of communicating on a dating app. They met at an apartment complex on Sept. 21, 2021 where Abston allegedly claimed to work as maintenance man. According to the lawsuit, Abston drew a gun on Franklin, raped her in the backseat of a car, took her money and left her in a vacant apartment where he told her to remain until she heard his drive away, reported WMC.

Franklin’s lawsuit claims she was not updated on the investigation for months even though she immediately sought medical attention and reported the alleged rape to Memphis police.

The rape kit authorities collected was not tested until this year.

“MPD already had enough information to suspect Cloetha Abston (Henderson) was the man who had raped Alicia Franklin, but MPD officers did not seek to apprehend him,” the lawsuit says, per WMC.

Earlier this month, Abston pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.Ten

In another hearing earlier this month, Abston did not enter a plea to the murder and kidnapping charges.

More about the case, lawsuit and charges can be found here.

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