Eliza Fletcher murder suspect appears in court for unrelated theft, days after being charged in separate kidnapping

The 38-year-old faces charges of aggravated rape and kidnapping charges in relation to a separate incident that took place in September 2021

Andrea Blanco,Bevan Hurley
Monday 12 September 2022 22:19 BST
Memphis Police Identify Body Of Abducted Jogger

A suspect in the killing of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher appeared in court for an unrelated theft charge.

Cleotha Henderson, 38, appeared before a Shelby County judge on Monday and was indicted with charges stemming from a robbery that took place on 1 September, a day before Ms Fletcher was abducted. The victim in the theft case said that her CashApp and Wisely Card were used at a gas station after she left her wallet at work.

According to Fox13, authorities said surveillance footage captured Henderson taking the wallet and then spending $910 at the gas pump. He was charged with identity theft, theft of property $1,000 or less, and fraudulent use and illegal possession of credit cards.

The charges are the latest amid a slew of legal issues for Henderson. On Thursday, a grand jury also indicted him with unlawful possession of a weapon, aggravated rape and kidnapping in relation to a separate September 21, 2021 incident.

In the grand jury indictment, obtained by Fox News, Henderson is accused of “knowingly, or recklessly sexually penetrating [the victim] by use of force or coercion, while armed with a weapon.” Although a sexual assault kit was submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) two days after the alleged assault, an expedited analysis was not requested by the bureau, a spokesperson told Fox.

Henderson is accused of abducting Fletcher while she was jogging near the University of Memphis

The kit was only processed on 24 June and entered into the FBI DNA database after the initial report was finished on 29 August. A positive match came back on 5 September, three days after Ms Fletcher was kidnapped.

A TBI spokesperson told Fox that the kit would have been processed within five business days had an expedited request been made by a local law enforcement agency — in this case, the Memphis Police Department.

“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 bureau told Fox.

Instead, it took investigators ten months to finally get a DNA match and a potential suspect for the September 2021 assault.

Ms Fletcher was jogging at about 4.20am near the University of Memphis on 2 September when surveillance footage captured the moment a man believed to be Henderson violently forced her into a vehicle

Henderson’s indictment by a grand jury on Thursday came just three days after remains belonging to Ms Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher and granddaughter of the Orgill hardware empire, were found less than a mile from the home of the brother of her alleged killer on 5 September.

Her purple Lululemon running shorts were found in a trash bag nearby.

Henderson was reportedly spotted by multiple witnesses cleaning his vehicle and clothes at the property in the hours after the 34-year-old mother-of-two was snatched from the street.

Cleotha Henderson was released from prison less than two years ago over the 2000 abduction of a Memphis attorney

Ms Fletcher was jogging at about 4.20am near the University of Memphis on 2 September when surveillance footage captured the moment a man believed to be Henderson violently forced her into a dark GMC Terrain.

He was arrested the next day by US Marshals and refused to give police any information about Ms Fletcher’s whereabouts, as law enforcement mounted a city-wide search. He was initially charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

DNA from a pair of Champion slide sandals recovered from the scene of the kidnapping were matched to Henderson, according to the police affidavit. Investigators have described her murder as an “isolated attack by a stranger”.

On Friday, thousands of women took part in events across America to complete the run that Ms Fletcher started

Henderson, a convicted kidnapper who was released from prison less than two years ago over the 2000 abduction of a Memphis attorney, has since been charged with the first-degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping of Ms Fletcher.

On Friday, thousands of women took part in events across America to complete the run that Ms Fletcher started.

Funeral services for Ms Fletcher are due to take place on Saturday. Henderson is set to appear in court again on September 19.

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