MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The family of slain Memphis teacher Eliza "Liza" Fletcher has announced details of her funeral service days after she was attacked, abducted and killed on her morning jog near the University of Memphis.
"Above all else, Liza’s most cherished role was that of wife and mother," according to the obituary shared by Canale Funeral Directors, where her parents made arrangements Wednesday. "After meeting at Second Presbyterian Church, she married her beloved husband, She loved her family fiercely and unconditionally. Together as a family, they enjoyed outdoor adventures including boating, water sports, hiking, running, and biking. She was deeply admired by her family and friends for her passionate dedication to motherhood."
The teacher and mother of two was remembered as "a born athlete," and as an avid runner, she had qualified for the Boston Marathon. "She channeled her competitive nature into enthusiastic participation in all that she undertook."
Her funeral will be held at Second Presbyterian Church at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday.
The family is asking memorials to be sent to the Liza Wellford Fletcher Memorial Fund at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Christ Methodist Day School, and Second Presbyterian Church.
"She found great joy in morning runs with friends," her family's online obituary reads.
Fletcher played soccer at the university before transferring to Baylor. She later obtained a Master's degree from Belmont University and went on to teach children at both the Promise Academy and St. Mary's Episcopal School.
"She truly walked and modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith," the missive continues. "Liza was a light to all who knew her."
Fletcher, 34, was praised by her school, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, in a Facebook post as someone whose "smile brightens every room she enters."
Several events in Fletcher's honor will be held on her running route early Friday morning.
Fletcher is survived by her husband, Richard James Fletcher III, whom she married on March 8, 2014, and two sons, Richard James Fletcher IV and Harry Wellford Fletcher, as well as her parents, Adele Orgill Wellford and James Beasley Wellford.
"Her contagious smile and laughter could brighten any room," the obituary reads. "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. 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."
Fletcher's alleged killer, Cleotha Henderson, is being held without bond at the Shelby County Jail on charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder.
He allegedly stalked around the University of Memphis campus on the morning of Sept. 2, then rushed Fletcher as she jogged down Central Avenue.
Following a struggle in which he lost his shoes, police say Henderson forced her into an SUV. Investigators recovered his DNA on the shoes, according to court documents.
His past criminal history includes five aggravated assault charges, rape and kidnapping — all of which occurred when he was a juvenile. He was recently released from prison after serving 20 years of a 24-year sentence.
Henderson is due back in court on Sept. 19.