Loved ones and the Memphis community will gather on Saturday morning to bid farewell to Tennessee teacher and mother Eliza Fletcher.
Fletcher, 34, was running near the University of Memphis campus around 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 2 when she was abducted and killed, allegedly at the hands of a stranger named Cleotha Henderson. The funeral services will be held at the Second Presbyterian Church, in Memphis, Tennessee, where Fletcher met her husband of eight years, Richard.
Henderson, who has a violent criminal past, has since been charged with several counts, including first-degree murder, premeditated murder and murder in perpetration of kidnappings, in addition to other counts that include aggravated kidnapping and tampering with/fabricating evidence.
Fletcher was a married mother of two and a descendant of the Orgill fortune. She was a junior kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and had previously taught at the Promise Academy.
An obituary released in her memory describes her as having been "devoted" to her work and her students.
"As with everything Liza took on, she nurtured and cared for her students with her whole heart," the obituary states. "A strong believer in the importance of personal growth, she was not afraid to be vulnerable. To the contrary, she embraced it."
It also describes the young mom as a "born athlete."
"Liza's passion for sports extended from childhood teams to collegiate competition to excellence in marathons in adulthood," according to the obituary. "She found great joy in her morning runs with friends. She channeled her competitive nature into enthusiastic participation in all that she undertook."
Fletcher was someone who "modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith."
The page adds: "Her impact is extraordinary, as is witnessed in the prayer groups, vigils held at the homes of friends and family, church and school gatherings, and memorial runs and walks held in her honor. The outpouring of love and grief would have surprised Liza, who never thought or acted as if she were something special – though she certainly was."
But her "most cherished role," the obituary states, "was that of wife and mother."
"Liza was a light to all who knew her," it goes on. "Her contagious smile and laughter could brighten any room. Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the very best in everyone she met. To know her was to love her and to be loved by her."
Deputy Attorney General Steve Mulroy said Tuesday that investigators had "no reason to think this was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger." He did not divulge a possible motive.
Fletcher's family has asked that any memorials be made in the form of contributions to the Liza Wellford Fletcher Memorial Fund at St. Mary's Episcopal School, Christ Methodist Day School, and Second Presbyterian Church.