The Tragic Case of Eliza Fletcher and Violence Against Women

Eliza Fletcher

The disappearance and murder of Eliza Fletcher have left many people across America feeling heartbroken.

Eliza was a wife, a mom to two little boys, and a kindergarten teacher. She sounds like she was a wonderful person. But in early September 2022, she kidnapped and killed in a terrible act of violence while jogging one morning in Memphis, Tennessee.

It’s so sad when something like this happens. Eliza’s death reminds us that violence against women is still a big problem in our society today.

I’ll share more details on what happened to Eliza to understand why crimes like this keep occurring and what can be done to help make the world safer for women.

Eliza’s Life

Eliza's Life

Fletcher was born on September 23, 1988, in Memphis, Tennessee, and came from a wealthy family. Eliza was the granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill, a wealthy business individual.

Moreover, Eliza’s grandfather founded the Orgill company, the primary hardware material supplier.

Furthermore, she did her graduation from St.Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis. Later, she went to the University of Mississippi to pursue a professional degree in elementary education.

However, after completing her university education, she returned to Memphis, where she started her career as a teacher in Kindergarten at St.Mary’s Episcopal School, from where she graduated.

Eliza was a teacher who was passionate about her career. She cared deeply for her students and always tried to make learning enjoyable. She mentored many students and helped them succeed.

In addition to teaching, Eliza enjoyed athletics. She was part of a runners club in Memphis and competed in marathons and races. Running was one of her talents.

The family was also essential to Eliza. She married her husband Richard in 2014, and they had two young sons together. Eliza cherished her role as a wife and mother. Her family brought her immense joy.

Background on the Disappearance and Murder of Eliza Fletcher

What happened to Eliza Fletcher is heartbreaking. One morning in early September 2022, she went out for a jog near the University of Memphis like she often did. But this time, Eliza never returned home.

A man grabbed her and forced her into an SUV, kidnapping her. When she didn’t return that morning, her worried family reported her missing immediately.

After days of frantic searching across the city, her body discovered on September 5th, dumped behind an abandoned house miles from where she was abducted.

Police have arrested a 38-year-old man named Cleotha Abston for kidnapping and murdering Eliza.

Shockingly, this was not his first violent crime – in 2000, he was sentenced to 20 years for a different armed abduction.

Eliza’s senseless murder has shaken the Memphis community to its core. It has also made parents, women runners, and women everywhere feel less safe.

Tragically, crimes like what happened to Eliza are not uncommon. Violence against women remains a human rights crisis affecting 1 out of every 3 women globally.

Here in the United States, over 10 million adults suffer domestic abuse every year, and on average, over 3 women are killed by their partners in America daily.

What is the current status of the case against the man accused of killing Eliza Fletcher?

The next scheduled court date for Cleotha Abston-Henderson, the person accused of kidnapping and killing Fletcher, is September 15. This is to provide an update on the case.

Recent criminal court documents state that Abston-Henderson’s public counsel was fired from the case on August 3 and that Juni Ganguli, a private attorney, is now defending him.

Because of the severity of the crime, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy has stated that his office will pursue the death penalty in Abston-Henderson’s case.

In Shelby County, Ganguli has defended several well-known defendants, including Sherra Wright, the ex-wife of legendary Memphis basketball player Lorenzen Wright.

Because of the severity of the crime, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy has stated that his office will pursue the death penalty in Abston-Henderson’s case.

How did Eliza Fletcher’s death impact the city of Memphis?

Fletcher’s passing brought a terrible focus to a problem affecting Memphians: crime. More precisely, Fletcher’s murder raised concerns about the way the Tennessee legal system handles repeat offenders.

Abston-Henderson has just recently reintegrated into society in 2020 after serving a 20-year prison term for abduction.

In addition to being charged with the murder of Fletcher, Abston-Henderson was also accused of the kidnapping and sexual assault of Alicia Franklin in 2021. Franklin was a young lady who had connected with Abston-Henderson on a dating app.

After it became apparent that Memphis police may have had an opportunity to arrest Abston-Henderson following Franklin’s assault, advocacy groups requested that a special investigator look into various agencies for potential “failings” by law enforcement and state prison officials in the wake of Fletcher’s death.

State cash totaling $5 million was given to the University of Memphis in the wake of Fletcher’s death to be used for increased security measures in the vicinity of the abduction site. According to the institution, the first stage of implementing those improved measures has begun.

What has motivated people to participate in runs honoring Eliza Fletcher?

Throughout her life, Fletcher—a mother of two little children—was an enthusiastic runner who once set a record at the yearly marathon held by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with a timing of 3:26:09.

When she was kidnapped, Fletcher had gone for an early morning run that began well before dawn.

Thousands more women joined up to run the remaining portion of Fletcher’s journey on the day of her disappearance in 2022 following the discovery of her body.

A year later, at 4:20 a.m., over a thousand people flocked to the streets to “Finish Liza’s Run,” resolving to run the final 8 miles that Fletcher could not accomplish the previous year. Joggers cheered each other across the finish line outside the Cathedral of Hope as the sun rose.

Eliza’s Impact

Everybody cherished Eliza in the community of Memphis. She was well known for her kindness, generosity, and positive manner—Eliza was admired by everyone she met, and her death incident left an emptiness in her community.

Her story is not confined to her hometown. Her sad death reached many people around the globe and encouraged them to carry on the discussion and take severe steps to improve the safety of girls and women.

Although she passed away, her tragic death incident might influence society to continue efforts for women’s safety and their rights.

Factors Behind Violence Against Women Highlighted by this Tragedy.

While we never know all the details about Eliza’s terrible death, her story tells many factors that influence brutality against women.

Lack of Public Safety

Many cities and towns don’t have enough lighting, security cameras, or police around to keep public spaces safe.

When there aren’t proper safety measures, secluded places like parks, trails, and parking garages can become unsafe areas where women can be targeted and attacked more easily.

More must be done to install proper lighting, cameras, and emergency call boxes in these public spaces. Increased police patrols could also help deter attacks and give women peace of mind.

Simple precautions like these could help make communities safer and prevent tragic violence against women like the murder of Eliza Fletcher.

Victim Blaming

When terrible crimes occur, it is unfortunate that victims will always be blamed. It means the victim is solely responsible for the offense instead of the criminal who did the terrible act.

In Eliza’s case, the same thing happened: some news and social media platforms blamed her, saying she shouldn’t have gone alone early in the morning.

However, we forget it’s not the victim’s mistake when anyone commits a crime against them.

The executor is solely responsible for the terrible crime committed against them; it is not the innocent victim.

Eliza did not commit any crime if she went alone for the run early in the morning.

The responsibility for her kidnapping and murder falls solely on the man who attacked her. Victims should never be shamed or blamed for being targeted by criminals.

The focus should be ensuring perpetrators are caught and convicted, not criticizing victims.

Minimizing Violence Against Women

Violence against women is a big problem, though it’s not taken seriously as it should be.

Terrible crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and murders of women just get ignored because they are females.

But what happened to Eliza Fletcher has helped bring more public focus on how bad the violence against women issue is.

More strict laws are needed to protect women’s rights and safety. Police, judges, and the legal system also require better training to take crimes against women seriously. Too often, these crimes get dismissed, or the criminals get light punishments.

All women need to feel safe and secure, and at the same time, their rights must be protected.

However, a lot of effort still needs to be done in our society and communities to make them aware of violence against women as a severe problem.

More awareness could help prevent future tragic cases like what happened to Eliza. Women’s lives matter.

These crimes must address and met with the harshest penalties to reduce violence against women someday.

The Role of Misogyny

Misogyny, or prejudice against women, has deep roots in many cultures. Misogynistic attitudes that promote hostility, degradation, and violence against women enable crimes like Eliza’s murder.

More must be done to address systemic misogyny in our society. Gender equity education from a young age is essential.

Carrying on Eliza’s Legacy

Eliza’s murder is a sobering reminder of the violence far too many women experience. But her story can inspire positive change. In Memphis, hundreds came together for a “Finish Eliza’s Run” event in her honor.

Raising awareness, funds for victim support services, and showing solidarity are all ways to carry on her legacy.

Eliza’s loved ones describe her as “a light to all who knew her.” Her story now shines to help illuminate attempts to end violence against women once and for all.

While nothing can compensate for this devastating loss, our society must take responsibility and declare that every woman deserves to feel safe.

Lessons We Can Learn from Eliza’s Death

Eliza’s tragic death teaches us important lessons. It reminds us that violence can take any life, and we must better protect the vulnerable.

Her generosity and kindness also inspire us to make the world kinder. By honoring Eliza’s spirit of service and compassion, we can build stronger communities and prevent future tragedies.

Though her life ended, her example calls us to live more meaningfully.

Additional Information

Eliza enriched her community through volunteering and leadership roles. She supported causes like the Botanic Garden and the Zoo. Her promise recognized with a “30 Under 30” award.

Her passing sparked action to continue her legacy. New organizations promote women’s safety, like a Fund providing resources to victims. A new app helps runners stay safe.

Though Eliza gone, her giving spirit remains through efforts to build a just world. She inspires us to cultivate communities where all can flourish free from violence. Her shortened life calls us to live meaningfully and uplift others.


Eliza Fletcher’s devastating abduction and murder have spotlighted the ongoing violence crisis against women.

Her story represents countless other victims of crimes rooted in misogyny and lack of public safety protections.

The tragic loss of her life can catalyze positive change to prevent violence, improve women’s safety, and transform misogynistic attitudes in society.

While Eliza cannot be brought back, she can be honored through efforts to make the world a little safer for the women who come after her.

Her memory demands action, and her legacy of light requires that we unite to create a society where all women can walk, run, and live freely without fear.

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