Eliza Fletcher never got to finish her 8.2-mile run.
The 34-year-old kindergarten teacher sporting a pink top and purple shorts disappeared around 4:20 a.m. last Friday near the University of Memphis campus in southwest Tennessee.
Hundreds in Memphis gathered early this Friday morning to complete the trail the mother of two will no longer run.
“We created this run as [a] way to honor Liza and cope with our own feelings,” organizers posted in the Facebook event titled “Let’s Finish Liza’s run.” “This run is 8.2 miles taking a path she would regularly run. … Our goal is to stand up for the women in the Mid South and emphasize that women should be able to safely run any time of day.”
At 4:20 a.m. — alluding to the last time Fletcher was seen alive — friends and strangers wearing bright colors and lights ran, jogged and walked in her honor. Runners in Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere organized their own events as a tribute to Fletcher and other women who have gone missing, been harassed or felt unsafe while exercising.
“Liza’s Lights shined extremely bright at 4:20 a.m.,” a woman who attended the event in Memphis wrote on her social media page. “ … This was for Liza but also for every woman that wants to go for a run at any time of their day. We’ll keep shining for you Liza.”
Another woman in Florida who accompanied a group in an early Friday morning run posted on Facebook, “Dear #elizafletcher, We are from Florida. We never met you. We never ran with you. But you were a mother, a professional, and runner, Just like us, and because of that, we woke up at 4 a.m. today to run in your honor #restinpeace.”
Since her disappearance, many women wearing pink tops and purple shorts have also taken to social media to post workout selfies in honor of Fletcher, with the hashtags #runforeliza and #finishelizasrun.
Event organizers declined to comment in a message to The Washington Post.
“We are declining all interviews, as this is not about us, it’s about healing, honoring Liza by finishing her run, and standing up for women’s rights,” Danielle Heineman, one of the event organizers, told The Post.
On Sept. 2, surveillance footage captured a man forcing Fletcher into a black SUV, according to an affidavit released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Police suspect Fletcher, an avid runner, suffered a “serious injury” during the abduction. “There appeared to be a struggle,” the affidavit said, citing the surveillance footage.
An intense search began after her husband told police she did not return home from her 4 a.m. run. Later that morning, around 6:45 a.m., a cyclist found a pair of pink sandals and her cellphone in a roadway outside the university campus. The search ended on Sept. 6 when police confirmed the body they’d found behind a vacant home a day earlier, not too far away from where she was last seen, was Fletcher’s.
DNA from the pink sandals linked Abston to the kidnapping, and cellphone records show he was in the vicinity at the time Fletcher was forced into the SUV, police said.
Fletcher was a granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III, who ran Orgill, a large distributor of hardware and home-improvement supplies. In a statement shared with local media, Fletcher’s family described her as a “joy” to those who knew her.
“Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her,” the family said.
Lyric Li and Brittany Shammas contributed to this report.