Police dismissed woman who says she was raped by Eliza Fletcher’s accused killer as ‘average Black girl’

Alicia Franklin’s sexual assault kit remained untested for almost a year after she was raped

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 21 September 2022 15:59 BST
Man charged over kidnapping of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher

A woman has alleged that she was raped in 2021 by the man who is now facing charges for kidnapping and murdering Eliza Fletcher.

Alicia Franklin, 22, claims she was raped at gunpoint by Cleotha Abston, who appeared in Shelby County court on Monday for killing the Memphis teacher and business heiress on 2 September.

Ms Franklin said when she brought her case to Memphis police, they dismissed it as that of an “average Black girl”.

Her sexual assault kit was submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) two days after the crime but the Memphis police department did not ask it to be expedited for it to be analysed as they did in Fletcher’s case, reported Newsweek.

TBI said the officers did not request a “rush” in her case and her kit was trapped in the state’s backlog of samples with unknown assailants, according to the report.

Ms Franklin said she met Abston through the dating app Plenty of Fish last year and went to his apartment. But as soon as she went inside the accused put a gun on her neck, covered her face with a T-shirt and raped her, she told The Daily Memphian.

She alleged detectives failed to collect fingerprints from her phone, show her a recent picture to identify the attacker or get her sexual kit analysed on priority.

She said all these actions could have put Abston behind bars before he allegedly committed Fletcher’s murder and lamented that the detectives not only failed her but Abston’s other victims and Fletcher.

He now faces charges in both cases after TBI analysed Ms Franklin’s kit, nine months after the crime and the resulting profile match for Abston.

“I’ve been up all night thinking about this beautiful soul I can’t sleep I can’t eat! my heart pours out for her and her family especially those babies because I know what she experienced firsthand! may your soul rest in everlasting peace Eliz,” she said on Facebook, sharing a family picture of Fletcher after her body was recovered.

Cleotha Abston appears in court on charges for killing Eliza Fletcher

New details emerge as Abston was ordered to be held without bond as he appeared in court charged with the murder of the 34-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother of two.

Fletcher was abducted while out jogging near the University of Memphis campus and forced into an SUV at 4am. Her body was recovered three days after she went missing, outside an abandoned home.

Abston was convicted of raping a man when he was 14 years old, according to court documents. He is also a convicted kidnapper who was released from prison in 2020 after serving 19 years.

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