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  • Delaney Hayden

“Let’s Finish Liza’s Run”: Eliza Fletcher’s Tragic Death

On Sept. 5, 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher’s body was found in tall grass behind a vacant complex. Fletcher was a kindergarten teacher, mother and wife. She routinely ran early in the morning before school went into session and before many people even woke up. On Sept. 2, she departed on her run but never returned. The Memphis police department was contacted, and surveillance video footage of Fletcher being abducted near the University of Memphis was found.

The suspect of her abduction, Cleotha Abston, was arrested a day after video footage was found that allegedly shows Abston chasing after Fletcher and forcing her into his SUV around 4 a.m.

Two witnesses, including Abston’s brother (who was determined not guilty), claimed that Abston was acting strange and that they saw him clean the interior of his SUV as well as wash his clothes in the sink of the house.

Abston already had a criminal record and had recently served 20 years of a 24-year sentence. His record included him being charged with rape at the age of 14 and charged with kidnapping of a Memphis attorney at the age of 16.

Abston then faced charges of previous kidnappings and rape from 2021 that were not related to Fletcher’s case. These charges — presented an entire year later — raised a lot of concern, due to the fact that a majority of the victims of these kidnappings and rape from a year prior were Black women. The main concern of critics is that the results of these previous cases supposedly took so long to come in due to “a massive backlog in DNA testing” of rape kits, while the investigation of Fletcher, a white woman, processed the DNA related to her case in only a few hours.

Memphis Police allegedly put in a rush request for Fletcher’s results, but critics ask why there was no rush request for the case from last year.

Exactly a week after Fletcher’s alleged abduction and killing, her community and others joined together in remembrance of her. Over 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s daily route in memory of her.

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