Eliza “Liza” Fletcher used to run 8 miles before sunrise. But her final career was left tragically unfinished.
Fletcher, a 34-year-old wife, mother and teacher, was violently abducted last week in Memphis, Tennessee; Her body was found Monday behind a vacant complex.
A week after he disappeared during his training, members of the Fletcher community gathered this Friday morning to symbolically complete his last race. More than 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s route in an event called “Let’s finish Liza’s raceThe race was organized on Facebook and another 3,200 people responded that they were “interested” in attending.
“I’m very impressed with the turnout. It’s very emotional,” resident Margaret Craddock said. to CNN affiliate WHBQ, during the race. “I met Eliza a little long time ago. It’s a real tribute to her and the fact that women should be able to go out early in the morning or anytime and do this. It’s really good for our city right now to have everyone They join”.
On the Facebook page, the event organizers said: “We created this race as a way to honor Liza and deal with our own feelings. Our goal is to stand up for women in the Mid-South and emphasize that women should be able to run safely at any time of the day.
Memphis, already reeling from Fletcher’s kidnapping and murder, is also reeling from an shooting on Wednesday that left four dead and three wounded. A 38-year-old man with a prior kidnapping conviction was charged in Fletcher’s death, while a 19 year old man defendant in the shooting is scheduled to appear in court Friday, according to jail records.
The Memphis Police Department planned to support Friday morning’s event honoring Fletcher with “an increased presence in the area,” it tweeted.
Fletcher, a mother of two, was a kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, where faculty and staff lit candles this week in her memory. Fletcher’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 10 am, according to her obituary.
“Liza was a light to all who knew her. Her infectious smile and laugh could brighten any room. Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the best in everyone she met,” it reads in his obituarypublished Thursday by Canale Funeral Directors.
Suspect in Fletcher murder appears in court
The man accused of kidnapping and killing Fletcher has been identified as Cleotha Henderson. She is facing a charge of first degree murder in perpetrating a kidnapping, in addition to initial charges of kidnapping and tampering with evidence.
It’s unclear what sentence prosecutors will seek if Henderson is convicted.
“It’s premature for us to discuss at this point what punishment we’re going to seek,” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Wednesday. In Tennessee, a first-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life in prison, with or without parole, or the death penalty.
It’s also unclear whether Henderson’s kidnapping conviction more than 20 years ago would have an impact on this case. Henderson pleaded guilty to kidnapping a lawyer in 2000 and was released in 2020, Mulroy’s office said. to local news outlet WREG.
Suspect appears in Memphis teacher’s murder
The search began when Fletcher did not return from running.
The search for Fletcher began last Friday after her husband reported that she did not return home from her morning routine, authorities said in an affidavit.
Police later found surveillance video from that area that showed a black GMC Terrain driving past her, according to the affidavit. In the footage, a man is seen getting out of the truck and running “aggressively” toward her before forcing her into the vehicle’s passenger seat, according to the affidavit. The SUV drove away about four minutes after both people were inside, according to the affidavit.
Police also analyzed a pair of sandals found at the kidnapping scene, near the victim’s phone. DNA found on the shoes matched Henderson’s DNA, according to the affidavit.
Henderson’s employer told investigators he was driving a GMC Terrain and verified his phone number. Cell phone records showed Henderson was near the kidnapping site at the time of the kidnapping, according to the affidavit.
Members of a US sheriff’s task force found a GMC Terrain matching details seen on surveillance video near Henderson’s home Saturday morning, the affidavit said. The task force detained Henderson near his home on Saturday, according to the court document.
Two witnesses, including Henderson’s brother, told police they saw Henderson acting strangely at the brother’s home in Memphis after the kidnapping, according to the affidavit. Both said that Henderson cleaned the interior of the GMC Terrain with a floor cleaner and that he washed his clothes in the sink at home, the affidavit says.