A Black woman is suing the City of Memphis for failing to investigate her rape case at the hands of a man who went on to murder a white jogger.
The news of missing runner Eliza Fletcher made national headlines. The kindergarten teacher was on her morning jog when she was kidnapped and killed by Cleotha Abston on September 2nd. Sadly, Abston had attacked and raped Alicia Franklin a year prior but was not brought to justice in that case. Franklin believes investigators could have prevented Fletcher’s death had they taken her attack seriously.
According to Franklin, she initially corresponded with Abston on a dating app in September 2021, and the two began communicating for several weeks before agreeing to hang out. He asked Franklin to pick him up from his apartment. However, once she walked inside, she realized that the unit was abandoned. Abston quickly put a gun to her neck and threatened to shoot her if she did not comply. He then placed a t-shirt over her face, forced her into a car, and raped her at gunpoint. After the ordeal, he set Franklin free, and the traumatized woman drove herself to a nearby hospital. A rape kit was administered. However, police failed to follow up despite Franklin providing her attacker’s phone number, social media accounts, and car description.
“I called for about two days, but nobody really was talking to me,” Franklin told ABC News. Police would later tell her they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest and charge Abston with rape.
According to her lawsuit, if the DNA from the rape kit had been examined, police would have linked it to Abston. He was recently released from prison after serving 20 years for kidnapping, so his DNA was in police databases. Gary Smith, Franklin’s attorney, says police provided a suspect lineup that included Abston, but Franklin didn’t recognize him due to the photo being over ten years old.
Abston was only charged with Franklin’s rape after being charged with Fletcher’s murder. In addition, he faces a charge of kidnapping and tampering with evidence.