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Untested rape kits plagued Memphis long before jogger case

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Memphis' long-held problems with testing rape kits quickly have come under renewed scrutiny with Cleotha Henderson's arrest last month in the killing of Eliza Fletcher, a mother and kindergarten teacher who was abducted while jogging.

Authorities say a rape kit submitted in September 2021 for the sexual assault of a different woman sat untested for nearly a year. It wasn't until Sept. 5 — three days after Fletcher's abduction — that DNA from the 2021 assault matched Henderson's in a national database.

That revelation has sparked outrage and left many wondering whether Fletcher's killing could have been prevented.

It has also shown a spotlight on continued testing delays following revelations in 2013 that Memphis Police had more than 12,000 untested rape case DNA samples in storage.