This case polarized me from the morning of Friday, September 2nd when I first received the notification no my phone about a missing jogger. What happened to Eliza Fletcher is something that everyone has thought of being a possibility, something that all women and men need to be aware of, something that you really only read about, but never believed would actually happen.
In the early morning hours on Friday, September 2nd, Eliza Fletcher went on a run in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. She did this every morning, it was her routine. She didn’t know that this Friday morning would be different than all the other mornings. Eliza was met by evil in human form this Friday morning, his name should not get any notoriety so I won’t mention it, who violently attacked her after waiting for her to run by him and his car. These would be Eliza’s final moment. After her violent abduction, not long after, Eliza Fletcher was murdered and left at an abandoned help. Thanks to the Memphis Police Department, the University of Memphis, Good Samaritans and neighbors, the suspect was apprehended the next day. Eliza’s body was found on September 5th, and identified on September 6th.
This seemingly random, violent, stranger abduction raises so many questions, considering the suspect was previously arrested under violent kidnapping charges which he pleaded guilty too. This post is not for that or anything on criminal justice reform. This is for Eliza and why all runners, walkers, people who are outside, should remember her and this absolutely tragic event.
As runners and outdoor enthusiasts, we have all had nightmares of this situation.
Every morning, runners wake up to get their miles in, just like Eliza. They run for so many reasons – to escape thoughts, to stay in shape, to train for competition, but many see it as therapy. A simple act of self-care turned into a death sentence for this mother of 2 and now all runners will start their runs with a little extra awareness, a few more nerves, because of this tragic event. Even before the news of Eliza Fletcher’s violent kidnapping :
We play our music low or only wear one headphone so we can hear footsteps or people approaching around or behind us.
We carry pepper spray on our keychains for protection.
We were told to put our keys between our fingers and hold fists.
We share our locations at all times with our family and closest friends so they know where we are, when we are there, and if we are in the place we are supposed to be at.
We have disaster playbooks in our heads about how to handle people who cross our paths with bad intentions, so we have a plan if a terrible situation ever happens to us.
We make eye contact with some and avoid eye contact with others.
We make phone calls to trusted friends and family when we are alone and feel unsafe.
We touch trees, street light poles, walls, things on our path, so there is a physical trail of where we were and are headed.
As an active female, I have always been warned of the possibility of a terrible crime like what happened to Eliza. She could have been any of us. Whether it is in the morning, afternoon, or night, the fear of a random abduction has been warned. Yet, we all continue to do what we love – running, walking, hiking, etc. Eliza was outside running the morning she was senselessly murdered. The fear that we all have had did not stop Eliza.
Ways to Remember Eliza Fletcher
Share Her Story, Keep Her Name Alive.
The end of Eliza’s life is nightmare worthy, but it needs to be told. People need to know and change needs to be made. Women and men should not be afraid to go outside and ran by themselves. Share her story so others know that even though this appears to be a part of a horror movie script, it is indeed real life and was a real event that took place. We should not have to fear, but at the end of the day this is a very unfortunate reality that everyone should be aware of.
Keep Running for Eliza.
Continue pursuing your passions, your therapeutic activities, your marathon training, as she did regardless of the fears that she and many other women runners feel on a daily basis. Don’t stop running. Wake up every morning and run.
Stay Safe and Aware.
We should not have to worry about being abducted, but now more than ever we have to stay safe and aware. Do not let this story fade into the depths of the news and reporting and what’s the hot story – let Eliza’s story steer you into becoming an advocate for safety for women runners everywhere. Take the extra steps that may seem overboard – share your location, stay aware of your surroundings, carry a collapsable knife, carry pepper spray. I am sure that Eliza took precaution before her run, there is a reason why her case was solved so quickly.
Start a Community Watch Group
Keeping your community together and looking out for each other is important. Neighborhood Apps and Facebook Groups are create methods to stay in touch with your community. You never know what a small observation you make can have – many things that were reported by Good Samaritans and neighbors led to the arrest of Eliza’s killer and the discovery of Eliza’s body. If your community does not have one, start a watch group in Eliza’s honor.
Create or Join a Running Club or Group
The fear should not stop you from running or doing any activities solo – but in wake of Eliza Fletcher’s murder, it may not be the first thing on your to do list. Join a run club or create a run club to ensure that you are traveling with a group of people during your exercise. Whether it is a group of 3 or a group of 30, get people out and running and do so in Eliza FLetcher’s memory.
Eliza Fletcher Could Have Been Any of Us.
Eliza Fletcher’s case resonated a little extra to me and I know it struck a cord with many others. There’s been many times that I felt unsafe – the multiples times I called my father scared that a man was following me when I was walking home, or the car that followed me into my neighborhood when I walked home from school, or making eye-contact with someone who is uncomfortably watching me so that they know I see them and are aware of what is happening around me. The list goes on and it really is terrifying.
We cannot let this case slip beneath the rug and fade from our memories. Eliza Fletcher’s story must stay alive and everyone needs to understand the fear and the dangerous reality that we are battled every single day.
The fear is real.
The nightmare can be a reality.
We can’t let it stop us and dictate or lives. All we can do is prepare, stay vigilant, and plan for the worst. If we pretend the fear is not real then we are allowing ourselves to live in a false reality. Terrible things happen, we must acknowledge it, prepare for it, but try to not let it dictate the rest of our lives.
Rest in Peace Eliza Fletcher.