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Woman who said she was raped by Eliza Fletcher's alleged killer files amended lawsuit against City of Memphis

The victim who claims she was raped by Eliza Fletcher's alleged killer also filed a lawsuit against the owners of the apartment complex where it happened.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The victim who claims she was raped by Cleotha Henderson (aka Abston), Eliza Fletcher's alleged killer, has filed an amended lawsuit against the city of Memphis.

The original suit was filed Sept. 20, 2022, for failing to investigate the 2021 case and as a result, failing to prevent Fletcher's death. The amended lawsuit was filed Oct. 3.

She has also filed suit against the Lakes of Ridgeway apartments and its owners/management, saying they failed to provide adequate security which allowed for the rape to happen.

Original lawsuit against the City of Memphis

The original lawsuit against the city said the Memphis Police Department failed "to investigate the rape adequately and with due diligence, and the failure to utilize existing evidence on a timely basis to effect an arrest of the man who kidnapped and raped (the victim) in time to stop him from committing at least one other violent felony."

According to the lawsuit, the victim met with Henderson after texting with him for about a month after they met on a dating app. The man the victim knew as "Cleo" was Cleotha Henderson, the suspect in the Sept. 2, 2022 abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher. 

The lawsuit said when the victim met "Cleo", she was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint before she was allegedly raped in a car outside a vacant apartment. 

Immediately afterward, the lawsuit said the victim sought medical attention for the alleged rape and she reported the crime. That's when the rape kit was gathered.

Officers from the Memphis Police Department were assigned to investigate the case and the officers who processed the crime scene "took no physical evidence directly from the crime scene itself," the lawsuit said. 

A few months after the victim was allegedly raped, she called the Memphis Police Department asking for an update and she was told that "there was no updated information to give her," the lawsuit said. 

The TBI's DNA analysis from that rape kit returned as a match to Henderson's as Fletcher's murder was being investigated, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said, "Cleotha Abston should and could have been arrested and indicted for the aggravated rape of (the victim) many months earlier, most likely in the year 2021, based on all of the information set forth in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint, and the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher would not have occurred."

ABC24 reached out to the city of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department for comment. Both the city and Memphis police said they will not comment on pending litigation, as is standard practice.

Amended lawsuit filed

The amended lawsuit filed on Oct. 3 not only claims police had enough information to arrest Henderson months earlier based on the victim's information on a first name, a phone number, and the dating app - it said MPD also spoke with the suspect's girlfriend.

The amended portion said Henderson's girlfriend told investigators the day after the rape that he had access to two cars, one of which matched the description of the car the victim gave them. According to the amended lawsuit, the girlfriend also gave police the suspect's full name, and where he had moved to, which was near where the rape occurred.

The lawsuit claims MPD brought the victim in for a lineup, and showed her 10 photos, but the one of the suspect was at least a decade old. According to the lawsuit, MPD said they would need a more recent photo for her to look at, but failed to get one.

The lawsuit claims that based on information MPD had gotten during the investigation, they should have known Henderson was dangerous and presented a threat to the victim and the community at large.

Lawsuit against apartment complex

In a $2,000,000 lawsuit against the apartment complex, the victim said Henderson claimed he was a maintenance man at the complex. 

The suit said after agreeing to meet for a date, Henderson had her believe they were at his apartment, but when they went inside she realized it was vacant, and that's when he pulled a gun. The victim said he took her to a car outside, where he raped her.

That lawsuit claimed the apartment management was negligent for a lack of security, and leaving the vacant apartment accessible for Henderson, and that the area behind the apartments where the rape happened should have been secured. 

The suit also claimed apartment management allowed Henderson as a convicted felon to live long-term with a family member without a background check, endangering other residents and guests. The lawsuit also said management hired Henderson to do maintenance, allowing him access to the vacant apartment.

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