The murdered Memphis teacher never finished her morning run before she was abducted. More than 2,000 people will finish it for her on Friday morning

Fletcher, 34, was violently abducted in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 2 and her body was found behind a vacant compound on Monday.

On Friday, her community will complete this race for her.

More than 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s course in an event dubbed “Let’s Finish Liza’s Run.” The race was organized on Facebook and has doubled in participation since Thursday evening. Another 3,200 people responded that they were “interested” in attending.

“We created this race as a way to honor Liza and deal with our own feelings,” the event details read on the Facebook event page. “Our goal is to stand up for women in the Mid South and emphasize that women need to be able to run safely at any time of the day.”

Memphis Police tweeted they will support the event with “an increased presence in the region”.

Road closures and diversions will be in effect from 4:00 a.m., when participants begin to congregate, until 7:30 a.m., when they expect the race to be over and the road to be clear.

Fletcher was a kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis. Teachers and school staff lit candles in his memory earlier this week.

The 34-year-old was also a wife and mother of two children.

Fletcher’s funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to his obituary.

“Liza was a light to all who knew her. Her smile and infectious laugh could light up any room. Liza was pure in heart and innocent in a way that made her see the best in everyone she met. “, his obituary, published by Canale Funeral Directors Thursday, read.

Fletcher’s death and Thursday’s court appearance of the man accused of killing her coincided with another wave of shock and grief for Memphis: Police say a 19-year-old man gave himself up in a shooting in the city on Wednesday, killing four people and injuring three. others.

The man has been identified as Ezekiel Kelly and is due in court Friday, according to prison records. He is being held for first-degree murder, although officials have said they expect further felony charges.

Fletcher murder suspect appears in court

The man accused of abducting and killing Fletcher has been identified as 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson. He appeared in Shelby County court on Thursday after filing a motion to change counsel due to an alleged conflict of interest.

The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office, which was named this week in Henderson’s case, had previously represented him in a kidnapping conviction more than 20 years ago, Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr said.

Cleotha Abston has been charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence in the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher, a teacher from Tennessee.

Montesi said Henderson’s former attorney would not be involved in his current case, but ruled there was “no ground or basis for the public defender to be disqualified as a lawyer.”

The judge said Henderson would remain in the Shelby County jail without bail on the murder charge against him.

Henderson was initially charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence, and prosecutors later added a charge of first-degree murder in the commission of a kidnapping.

Henderson reportedly passed Fletcher in an SUV while she was jogging in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis. Authorities say Henderson got out of the vehicle and chased Fletcher until he forced her into the passenger seat around 4 a.m. on September 2.

Suspect in Memphis teacher's kidnapping and death being held without bond

It’s unclear at this point what type of sentencing prosecutors plan to pursue if Henderson is found guilty.

“It is premature for us to discuss now what punishment we are going to seek,” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Wednesday. In Tennessee, a first-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence — with or without parole — or the death penalty.

It’s also unclear if Henderson’s previous conviction for kidnapping over 20 years ago would have any impact in this case. Henderson pleaded guilty to kidnapping a lawyer in 2000 and was released in 2020, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office told local news outlet WREG.

The search began when Fletcher failed to return from the race

The search for Fletcher began last Friday after her husband reported that she had not returned home from her routine morning jog, authorities said in an affidavit.

Police later found surveillance video of that area that showed a black GMC Terrain passing it, according to the affidavit. A man is seen in the footage getting out of the SUV and “aggressively” running towards her before forcing her into the passenger seat of the vehicle, according to the affidavit. The SUV left about four minutes after the two people were inside, the affidavit states.

Police also analyzed a pair of sandals found at the kidnapping site near the victim’s phone. DNA found on the shoes matched Henderson’s DNA, according to the affidavit.

Henderson’s employer told investigators he drove a GMC Terrain and verified his phone number. Cell phone records showed Henderson was in the vicinity of the abduction site at the time of the abduction, according to the affidavit.

Members of a U.S. Marshals task force found a GMC Terrain that matched details seen in surveillance video near Henderson’s home on Saturday morning, the affidavit states. 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 abduction, according to the affidavit. The two said Henderson cleaned the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner and washed his clothes in the house sink, the affidavit states.

CNN’s Aya Elamroussi and Holly Yan contributed to this report.


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