Eliza Fletcher, 34, was kidnapped and murdered on September 2. His funeral will take place on Saturday
Eliza Fletcher’s funeral will be held on Saturday, her family announced – at the church in Memphis where she met and married her husband.
The beloved 34-year-old kindergarten teacher was kidnapped and murdered last week – abducted while on her usual 4.30am run through Memphis. A 38-year-old career criminal who served 20 years in prison for kidnapping, Cleotha Abston, has been charged with her murder.
On Thursday, the family confirmed details of his funeral, which will take place at 10 a.m. at Second Presbyterian Church.
Fletcher met her husband Richard at the church and the couple were married there in March 2014.
Eliza Fletcher is seen on her wedding day in March 2014, to her new husband Richard. The couple met at the Second Presbyterian Church
Eliza Fletcher’s funeral will take place on Saturday at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis (pictured) – where she met and married her husband, Richard
Fletcher pictured with her husband Richie and their two children. The family described her as a ‘special’ woman who was taken from them in a ‘senseless’ way
The couple became parents to what their obituary describes as “two exuberant and cheerful boys, Richard James Fletcher IV and Harry Wellford Fletcher”.
The obituary read: “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 family also praised her great faith.
“She truly walked and molded the Christian life and trusted her unwavering faith,” they wrote.
“Liza was a light to all who knew her. Her smile and infectious laugh could brighten up any room. Liza was pure in heart and innocent in a way that made her see the best in everyone she met. To know her was to love her and to be loved by her.
They noted the massive interest in his story and his untimely death.
“His impact is extraordinary, as evidenced by prayer groups, vigils held with friends and family, gatherings at church and school, and memorial runs and walks held in his honor,” they said. they wrote.
Fletcher was last seen around 4.20am Friday while jogging (right) in Memphis and a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said.
A Facebook group has been created to coordinate Friday’s race, in memory of Fletcher
At 4.30am on Friday morning, a group of women plan to run 8.2 miles in honor of the murdered jogger, describing the event as the end of her run.
Cleotha Abston, pictured in 2000, was first arrested when he was just 11 and was in and out of juvenile court 16 times in five years before kidnapping a lawyer
“The outpouring of love and heartbreak would have surprised Liza, who never thought or acted like she was anything special – although she certainly was.”
The family is asking anyone wishing to contribute to donate to a fund established in her memory at St Mary’s Episcopal School, where she taught, or the church that has played such a big part in her life.
Memphis magazine declared her wedding the “wedding of the year”.
After the ceremony at the church, the couple hosted their reception at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, with a rustic woodland theme under a light marquee lined with fairy lights.
Fletcher, whose grandfather founded a $3.2 billion Memphis-based hardware distributor last year, wanted the wedding to reflect his outdoor personality.
Guests were treated to a champagne and seafood bar, bluegrass musicians in the woods, and an interior described by Memphis magazine as “a wonderland of flowers and ferns falling from the ceiling”.
An Alabama-based artist, Ronald Bayens, was commissioned to paint the event as it unfolded.
“There hasn’t been another wedding like this in Memphis,” said the wedding planning team, Russell and Ruthie Events.
Cleotha Abston, 38, has appeared in court for the first degree murder of Eliza Fletcher, 34, and could face the death penalty. He has yet to plead the charges against him, but his public defender is considering a gag order
Eliza Fletcher, 34 (pictured) was kidnapped after being forced into a black SUV on Friday. Cleotha Abston, 38, has been charged with her abduction and is set to be charged with her murder after her body was found in tall grass against an abandoned house
On Thursday, Abston appeared in court in Memphis, Tennessee, charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence – with the judge again denying him bail until another hearing on September 19.
Jennifer Case, his public defender, initially argued there was a conflict of interest in her representing him, as her office had worked with him in a previous criminal case in the early 2000s.
However, the case was dismissed by the judge, Louis Montesi Jr, although he agreed to hear his arguments for a gag order at a later hearing.
Case argued aspects of the case should not be made public, after Memphis Police Chief CJ David called Abston a “dangerous predator”.
Tennessee is a death penalty state and prosecutors said Thursday they would not rule him out if convicted.
Abston wore a green prison-issued uniform and mask, and spoke to his public defender only during the brief hearing.