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Eliza Fletcher’s alleged killer Cleotha Henderson served 20 years of a 24-year sentence, here’s why

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Memphis murder suspect Cleotha Henderson served about 20 years of a 24-year sentence in state prison after the May 2000 kidnapping and robbery of attorney Kemper Durand – but he didn’t never been granted parole, according to authorities and court records.

Henderson’s sentencing papers said the court ordered him to serve “100%” of his 24-year sentence because of his violent criminal past under the Sentencing Reform Act 1989. His juvenile rape case already included five charges of aggravated assault, a charge of rape after he turned 14, and the kidnapping at gunpoint of Durand when he was 16.

The five aggravated assault charges were laid between September 1997 and October 1999. He had seven theft cases between 1995 and 1999, plus additional charges of evading arrest and trespassing. He was first incarcerated as a juvenile in 1997, after his fourth offence.

At 38, Henderson has spent more than half his life in a Tennessee prison. Had he not been released early, he would have been behind bars the day police allege he abducted and killed a Memphis mother-of-two, Eliza Fletcher, as she ran her morning jog.


Murder suspect Cleotha Henderson appears in court at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis Tennessee, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Henderson is charged with the murder of Memphis mother of two, Eliza Fletcher. He is represented by appointed counsel, Jennifer Case. He was ordered held without bail by Judge Louis Montesi.
(Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

The suspect did not receive a parole hearing, and the Tennessee Parole Board on Wednesday distanced itself from the Memphis top prosecutor’s earlier remarks, which it deemed false and “libelous.”

“Earlier today, Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy falsely stated in a national television interview that Cleotha Abston [Henderson]the alleged kidnapper of Memphis schoolteacher Eliza Mitchell had been paroled,” the Tennessee Parole Board said in a statement. “This is a completely false and defamatory statement.”

Mulroy has been at work for a little over a week. In an alleged false statement, he called Henderson’s early release “on parole”.


“Our office opposed parole in this case, and I think rightly so, given his extensive record of violent crimes prior to the kidnapping conviction.” he said. He was not in office at the time of Henderson’s release.

His office did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment but posted a retraction on Twitter.

“I regret the mistake,” he wrote.

The parole board issued a lengthy statement dispelling any connection between its process and Henderson’s release.

“Council had no role in Mr Henderson’s release as he was ineligible for parole due to the structure of his sentence, which is determined by the courts applying the laws established by the legislature of the state,” said Dustin Krugel, director of communications for the council. said.


Henderson never had a parole hearing and was ineligible for one, according to court documents obtained by Fox News Digital.

“The parole board contacted the Shelby County Attorney General’s office and demanded an immediate retraction,” Krugel said.

Eliza Fletcher’s alleged killer Cleotha Henderson served 20 years of a 24-year sentence, here’s why

Liza Fletcher, left. Abduction suspect Cleotha Henderson, right
(Memphis PD/TBI/Shelby County Jail)

Eligibility for parole is determined by law and the law under which a suspect is sentenced, authorities say.

“The Tennessee Department of Correction is the official timekeeper for all offenders in the state,” Krugel said. “The TDOC determines eligibility by calculating sentences and sentence credits (time served or awarded as inducement) in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 40-35-501, 40-28-115 through 117.”

Eliza Fletcher’s alleged killer Cleotha Henderson served 20 years of a 24-year sentence, here’s why

The Texas Department of Correction’s Inmate Rules and Regulations manual describes the sentence reduction credit system on page 5.
(Tennessee Department of Corrections)

Henderson received 512 days credit for time served, court documents show, and then likely saw additional time reduced with other credit incentives, authorities said in the background.

The Department of Corrections did not respond to multiple requests for comment or emailed questions about specific details that led to Henderson’s release. According to the state’s website, early sentence reduction credits “are earned by demonstrating acceptable behavior and participating in work or educational programs.”

Depending on the length of an inmate’s incarceration, they can be earned for several days per month. They can be grounded for bad behavior.

“Public safety is always the Board’s number one consideration when an offender eligible for parole is being considered for release under community supervision by TDOC,” Krugel added.


The defendant asked the court judge on Wednesday morning to tell us his paternal surname Henderson in future court proceedings.

He is due to appear in court again on Thursday morning. The same goes for his brother, who was arrested over the weekend on unrelated charges after police searched his apartment in connection with Fletcher’s kidnapping and allegedly found 27 grams of fentanyl, d heroin and a handgun he was not legally allowed to possess.


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