The woman who police say was abducted and sexually assaulted by Cleotha Henderson in 2021 is suing the City of Memphis, accusing the Memphis Police Department of not adequately and with due diligence investigating the sexual assault Is.
The woman filed the lawsuit in Memphis’s circuit court on Tuesday, saying she suffered “physical and emotional injuries” that required ongoing medical and mental health treatment. She is seeking unspecified damages.
Henderson, also known by the last name Abston, who investigators say is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher, was convicted of sexual assault and kidnapping on September 8, 2021.
The indictment comes after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation analyzed rape kits taken on September 21, 2021, during routine DNA testing in late June. Kit returned on 30 August and returned a CODIS hit to Henderson two days later on 5 September. He was arrested in connection with Fletcher’s kidnapping.
The lawsuit describes how the woman met Henderson on a dating app and knew him as “Cleo.”
The two met for a date at The Lakes in Ridgeway, the same apartment complex they were arrested in early September. When they met outside an apartment, Henderson pulled a gun and forced her into the apartment, before raping her in a car behind the apartment, blindfolding her and threatening to kill her.
The lawsuit also claims that investigators did not take physical evidence from the crime scene upon arrival.
“Later [the woman] had completed forensic medical examination, the Memphis Police Department officer who was assigned to work on the case [her] to the crime scene,” the lawsuit reads. “MPD officers processing the crime scene did not take any physical evidence directly from the crime scene.”
The woman, who did not name The Commercial Appeal because it did not name victims of sexual assault, gave investigators the name “Cleo” along with her phone number, details of the vehicle she drove and social media information. gave.
MPD provided woman with “visual information and/or photographs of several potential suspects” [the woman] in a ‘lineup’ format.” The court filing says that one of the men shown was Henderson, and that police had enough evidence to suspect Henderson, but did not try to arrest him.
,[The woman] was not able to identify her assailant based on the photographs shown at the time,” the lawsuit reads.[She] The police were heard saying something like ‘Maybe we need to show him a new picture – this picture (possibly of Cleo Ebston) is 10 to 12 years old.'”
Officers told the woman they would find a new photo, but either never told or told the woman that they had a new photo to show her.
The lawsuit also says that the rape kit should have been taken to TBI, but it was not.
“… the Memphis Police Department presented a sexual assault kit taken from [the woman] to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (or “TBI”), but did not request that the sexual assault kit be processed ‘as early’ or on an expedited basis as could be the case, specifically considering the risk of potential harm to Cleothia Ebston Seeing it [the woman] and the community at large,” the lawsuit states.
It further stated that the current probable cause of Henderson’s arrest with a national DNA database hit was, and added, “Cliotha Ebston should have been arrested and charged with grievous rape. [the woman] Several months ago, most likely in the year 2021, based on all the information set forth in the preceding paragraph of this complaint, and Eliza Fletcher would not have been kidnapped and murdered.”
A lawsuit was filed against the City of Memphis, stating that “through the conduct of MPD officers who worked on the investigation [the woman’s] Case in point, the city of Memphis was reckless…[and] Careless.”
A Memphis Police Department spokesman declined, saying the department does not comment on pending litigation.
The woman, who now lives in Mississippi, also filed a lawsuit Tuesday against The Lakes at Ridgeway.
Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother and teacher of two children, went missing during a morning walk on the University of Memphis campus on September 2. His remains were found three days later behind an abandoned house. Henderson was arrested on September 4 and charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping on September 5.
Lucas Finton is a news reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be contacted at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and follow him on Twitter @LucasFinton.