Women Across The Country Run For Eliza Fletcher
On Sept. 2, 2022, Eliza Fletcher’s run was cut tragically short when she was allegedly forced into the car of 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson. After a four-day search, her body was found.
Women all around the country are dedicating their runs to 34-year-old Eliza “Liza” Fletcher, who tragically never got the chance to finish hers on the morning of Sept. 2, 2022.
Around 7 a.m. on that Friday morning, Richard Fletcher called police to report that his wife, Liza, a Memphis kindergarten teacher and mother of two, had not returned back from her usual 4 a.m. run. Through security camera footage, Memphis police were able to determine that Liza had been jogging around the University of Memphis at about 4:20 a.m. when an “unknown individual” aggressively ran toward her on foot and forced her into the passenger seat of a dark SUV.
According to court records, around 6:45 a.m. a biker found Liza’s cell phone on the side of the road in the area she had been seen running. The biker also found a pair of sandals nearby. Using DNA from the sandals, police were able to identify the suspect as 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson.
Henderson was arrested and faces a charge of first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping, plus initial charges of kidnapping and tampering with evidence, according to CNN.
On Sept. 5, 2022, after Henderson was already in custody, Liza’s body was found behind a vacant complex.
Liza’s murder reignites the conversation about safety while running as a woman. Since 2016, Vanessa Marcotte, 27; Karina Vetrano, 30; Wendy Martinez, 35; Mollie Tibbets, 20; and Sydney Sutherland, 25; were all killed during their runs, People reported.
Many women have taken to social media to express frustration, anger, and sadness over Liza's death. In one TikTok video, Lucy Loveless, who described herself as a friend of Liza’s, set out for a 13.1 mile run at 5:30 a.m., which she dedicated to Liza using the hashtag #RunForLiza.
“Now, if it hadn’t already before, a national conversation has started about what it means to be a woman in 2022, trying to do a very human thing; to go on a run,” she said. “I’m furious. And I’m heartbroken and I’m speechless a lot. I’m going to do this to the best of my ability for Liza. I hope everybody dedicates their run today to Liza.”
On the morning of Sept. 9, 2022, members of Liza’s community gathered to complete the run Liza never got the chance to finish. More than 2,500 people signed up for the Facebook event titled “Let's Finish Liza's Run”. The group met at 4 a.m. and set off at 4:20 a.m. to run Liza’s usual 8.2 mile route.
According to the Facebook page, the event was created as a way to “honor Liza and cope with our own feelings” as well as “emphasize that women should be able to safely run any time of day.”
Liza’s funeral is set for Sept. 10 at 10 a.m., according to her obituary.