MEMPHIS Tenn. — Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said she’d like to speed up testing for every rape kit that gets processed, just like police did for Eliza Fletcher, but acknowledges the decision isn’t hers alone.
“I’d like to put a rush on all on cases,” Davis said.
Cleotha Abston-Henderson, accused of kidnapping and killing teacher and mother Eliza Fletcher, was identified in less than 18 hours after receiving key evidence from the scene.
Rush testing was requested in Fletcher’s case.
Abston-Henderson was discovered to be linked to an entirely separate case that happened more than a year before Fletcher’s abduction and death. He’s been recently indicted for aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
TBI told us the sexual assault kit from a separate case in September of 2021 was put into the queue of unknown assailant kits, as no request was made for analysis to be expedited. The rape kit evidence in that case sat in storage at a state lab for months.
Appearing before Memphis city council members Tuesday, Chief Davis was asked about the decision to request a rush on case evidence to be tested.
“The only time we put a rush on a particular case is if we have probable cause we have identified an individual and we have enough probable cause that we know where that person is and we need that additional information in order to move forward with prosecution,” she said.
But Davis said the decision doesn’t only come from her office.
“It puts it over the hump and it has to be in collaboration with our DA’s office. That request has a signature also from the DA’s Office that says that this meets a criteria that we put a rush on,” Davis said.
City Councilman Chase Carlisle told us more needs to be done to expedite evidence to be processed.
“Look it’s a complex issue, there’s a memo of understanding, there’s some legal things but at the end of the day, our citizens deserve justice. It gutted me. Absolutely gutted to me to know that we could’ve had Cleo Henderson off the streets if we had just processed that kit,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle believes discussions need to be had to dedicate more money or resources to expedite more kits.