Eliza Fletcher: Hundreds Complete Run of Killed Memphis Teacher

Fletcher, a 34-year-old wife, mother and teacher, was violently kidnapped last week in Memphis, Tennessee; her body was found on Monday behind an abandoned complex.
A week to the day after she disappeared during her workout, members of Fletcher’s community gathered Friday morning to symbolically complete her final run. More than 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s route in an event called “Let’s Finish Liza’s Run”. The run was hosted on Facebook and another 3,200 people there responded that they were “interested” in taking part.
“I’m so impressed with the turnout. It’s very emotional,” resident Margaret Craddock told CNN affiliate WHBQ on the run. “I know Eliza a little while ago. It’s a real tribute to her and just the fact that women should be able to go out early in the morning or anytime and do this. It’s so good for our city to be in this time lets everyone come together.”

On the Facebook page, the event organizers said: “We made this run to honor Liza and deal with our own feelings. Our goal is to stand up for the women of the mid-south and highlight that women should be able to at any time.”

Memphis, already stunned by Fletcher’s kidnapping and murder, is also reeling from a Wednesday shooting that killed four people and injured three. A 38-year-old man with a previous kidnapping conviction has been charged with Fletcher’s death, while a 19-year-old man accused of the shooting is set to appear in court on Friday, according to prison records.
The Memphis Police Department planned to support the Friday morning event in Fletcher’s honor with “a greater presence in the area.” tweeted.

Fletcher, a mother of two, was a junior kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, where teachers and staff lit candles in her memory this week.

Fletcher’s funeral is set for Saturday at 10 a.m., according to her obituary.

“Liza was a light to all who knew her. Her infectious smile and laugh could brighten up any room. Liza was pure of heart and innocent in a way that allowed her to see the very best in everyone she met,” her obituary, posted Thursday by Canale Funeral directors, read.

Fletcher murder suspect appears in court

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering Fletcher has been identified as Cleotha Henderson. He is charged with first degree murder for kidnapping, plus initial charges of kidnapping and tampering with evidence.
Cleotha Abston

It is unclear what punishment prosecutors would receive if Henderson is convicted.

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

It is also unclear whether Henderson’s kidnapping conviction more than 20 years ago would have an impact in this case. Henderson pleaded guilty to kidnapping a lawyer in 2000 and was released in 2020, Mulroy’s office told local news channel WREG.
Suspect in kidnapping and death of Memphis teacher held without bail

Henderson appeared in a Shelby County court on Thursday after filing a petition to change attorneys over an alleged conflict of interest. The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office, appointed this week in Henderson’s case, had represented him in the earlier kidnapping case, Judge Louis Montesi Jr. said.

Montesi said Henderson’s previous attorney would not be involved in his current case and ruled there was no “ground or basis for disqualifying the public defender as counsel”.

Henderson will remain in Shelby County Jail without bail on the murder charge, the judge said.

Henderson allegedly passed Fletcher in an SUV while jogging on Sept. 2 in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis. Henderson got out of the vehicle and chased Fletcher until he forced her into the passenger seat around 4 a.m., authorities say.

The search started when Fletcher didn’t come back from running

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

Police later found surveillance video of that area showing a black GMC Terrain passing her, according to the affidavit. The footage shows a man 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 drove off about four minutes after both people got inside, the affidavit said.

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 drove a GMC Terrain and verified his phone number. According to the affidavit, Henderson was near the abduction site at the time of the abduction.

Members of a US Marshals task force found a GMC site Saturday morning that matched details seen in the surveillance video near Henderson’s home, the affidavit said. The task force detained Henderson near his home on Saturday, the court document said.

Two witnesses, including Henderson’s brother, told police they saw Henderson behaving strangely at the brother’s Memphis home after the kidnapping, according to the affidavit. Both said Henderson cleaned the interior of the GMC property with floor cleaner and washed his clothes in the sink of the house, the affidavit said.

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