A beloved teacher from Memphis, Tennessee, was well-known in her community and had a heart of gold. Her life ended tragically after she went about her usual routine, never expecting the looming dangers.
Life can change in the blink of an eye, and one moment can alter the course of someone’s fate unexpectedly. Sudden loss is never easy—it devastates the family and friends left behind.
When a woman vanished, an urgent search to find her began. Sadly, her story didn’t have a happy ending, leaving many people shattered and heartbroken.
— KWAM NewsTalk Memphis (@Mighty990KWAM) September 6, 2022
The Family’s Emotional Plea
When adored teacher Eliza Fletcher disappeared, everyone hoped to find her. On September 3, 2022, while police searched for her, her anxious family made their first appeal. They used social media to send a crucial message.
Five of her loved ones gathered on screen while her uncle read a plea for assistance. The family member stated:
“We want to start by thanking everyone for their prayers … [Eliza] has touched the hearts of many people, and it shows. More than anything, we want to see [Eliza] return home safely.”
“The family has offered a reward for information that leads to her safe return. We believe someone knows what happened and can help,” the uncle added. They were hopeful, but husband Richie Fletcher struggled to hold back his tears.
Family of Eliza Fletcher releases statement thanking community and law enforcement. Investigators say they have located a vehicle of interest in her disappearance and a man occupying the SUV has been detained. Eliza Fletcher has not been located. @3onyourside pic.twitter.com/7UMAik74BZ
— Shay Arthur (@ShayA_WREG3) September 3, 2022
She Was a Loving Wife and Mother
Eliza was a wonderful person working as a junior kindergarten teacher at St Mary’s Episcopal School. While she was an heiress to a $3.2 billion private hardware company, the passionate educator opted to follow her own path instead of joining the family business.
The joyful woman was also a mom of two and loved her kids and husband unconditionally. As an avid jogger, Eliza regularly started her day running on the tracks near her home.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Liza’s friends and family.
Liza loved life in every sense.
She loved God, her boys, her family, her friends, her students, and her dog. She also loved training and running in her neighborhood.#LizaFletcher #ElizaFletcher pic.twitter.com/eLZBN1rak2
— The AWARE Foundation (@aware_the) September 6, 2022
On a Mission to Find Her
Eliza enjoyed staying fit and healthy; taking care of herself and her family was always a top priority. The mother of two had big dreams and made memories with her family whenever possible.
While out for one of her usual morning runs, Eliza’s world turned upside down. Video footage captured her kidnapping near the University of Memphis campus, and the incident left authorities working fervently to find her.
The 34-year-old teacher still had a lifetime of love and joy ahead of her, but fate had other plans.
It Was a Senseless Loss
Everyone prayed Eliza would be found alive and well, but her family shared a media statement on September 6, 2022. They revealed heartbreaking news—it was news nobody wanted to receive.
Police found her body 36 hours after search efforts began. The family wanted people to remember how special Eliza was and encouraged her loved ones to celebrate her life. They expressed their heartbreak regarding the “senseless loss” and added:
“We are heartbroken and devastated … Liza was such a joy to so many — her family, friends, colleagues, students, parents, members of her Second Presbyterian Church, and everyone who knew her.”
What a beautiful person, a school teacher singing to her students.
Eliza Fletcher was killed by a career criminal. Lives like hers are lost because we care more about criminals than law abiding citizens.
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) September 6, 2022
Justice for Eliza
The 34-year-old teacher still had a lifetime of love and joy ahead of her, but fate had other plans. Those nearest to Eliza were relieved when police apprehended suspect Cleotha Abston.
He had a history of crime and faced various charges, including kidnapping. Eliza’s friends and family hoped justice would prevail in her case.
The Online Response
Condolences, prayers, and messages of support poured in for Eliza’s family. People shared their outrage about the painful incident, and many expressed what a devastating loss it was:
“Heartbreaking and disgusting, all wrapped in one. Sending my deepest condolences to her husband, children, family, and friends. So senseless and tragic.”
– (Shelly Mackey-Craig) September 7, 2022
“This is truly devastating… My heart breaks for #ElizaFletcher’s family, especially her two little boys, & her young students at St. Mary’s.”
– (@BriaJonesTV) September 6, 2022
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Liza’s friends and family. Liza loved life in every sense. She loved God, her boys, her family, her friends, her students, and her dog. She also loved training and running in her neighborhood.”
– (@aware_the) September 7, 2022
“I think this really shook every young woman and every mom in our city. This was brutal and pure evil. I didn’t even know Eliza, but I found myself getting choked up over this tragedy.”
– (@grizzlies015) September 7, 2022
— Bria Jones (@BriaJonesTV) September 6, 2022
Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences. Our thoughts and prayers go to Eliza’s family and friends during this time. May she rest in peace.
Click here for a story about a supportive community that banded together to find a little girl. She went missing near her home in Indiana, and people didn’t stop before the four-year-old was found. Tragically, she had passed away.