Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (2023)

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Eliza Fletcher funeral: Mourners walk inside to bid farewell

Loved ones and the Memphis community gathered Saturday morning to bid farewell to Tennessee teacher and mother Eliza Fletcher who was abducted and killed on Sept. 2, while running near the University of Memphis campus.

Loved ones and hundreds of mourners from the Memphis community gathered on Saturday morning to bid a final farewell to Tennessee teacher and mother Eliza Fletcher, who was honored for "bringing light to this day and the world."

Over 300 mourners were estimated to have attended funeral services held at theSecond Presbyterian Church, in Memphis, Tennessee, where 34-year-old Fletcher first met her husband of eight years, Richard. Attendees waited in lines to enter the building, with mourners arriving steadily over the 90 minutes preceding the ceremony.

Fletcher's family arrived in two funeral vehicles and a large bus around 9:45 a.m. local time. The ceremony was live-streamed via the church's YouTube page. Among songs and hymns performed by Second Presbyterian Church's choir was, "This Little Light of Mine," which Fletcher was seen in heart-wrenching video singing to her young students during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (2)

Eliza Fletcher's husband, Richard Fletcher, photographed outside the Second Presbyterian Church on September 10, 2022. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

Senior pastor Dr. George W. Robertson told mourners "everything in this service has something to do directly with Eliza Fletcher's life."

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (3)

Mourners gather at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2022, for the funeral service for Eliza Fletcher. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

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"Surely, you recognize the children's song, 'This Little Light of Mine,' she recorded for her kindergartners to encourage them to keep their light shining, even in the tough times of COVID. And you recognize perhaps those who came to her wedding. These were her favorite humans. She was a light. She also was a joy," Robertson said, according to the live stream. "Eliza's name is Hebrew … It means joy."

Eliza Fletcher's father leans against a wall as mourners gather at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2022, for the funeral service for Eliza Fletcher. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

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He spoke about Fletcher's love of designing her own Nike tennis shoes and how she "was very proud of those shoes."

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (5)

Eliza Fletcher's father, James Beasley, and mourners gather at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2022, for her funeral service. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

"'This little light of mine,' Liza said, 'I'm gonna let it shine.' Liza didn't have the resume of a world changer, as we count world changers," Robertson went on "But when Jesus is your light – no matter how small, no matter the world's dismissal of you for not having perhaps what it says you want to have – with Jesus as your light, no matter how small you are, it shines brightly. This little light, born 34 years ago, is bringing light to this day and the world"

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (6)

Eliza Fletcher's mother, Adele Wellford, and husband, Richard Fletcher, seen with mourners as they gather at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2022, for the funeral service for Eliza Fletcher. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

Photographs from outside Saturday’s ceremony show mourners, including Fletcher's mother, father and husband among other family members, consoling each other before the services began.

ELIZA FLETCHER ABDUCTION: TIMELINE OF THE MEMPHIS TEACHER'S DISAPPEARANCE AND MURDER

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (7)

Eliza Fletcher's father, James Beasley Wellford, and mourners gather at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2022, for the funeral service for Eliza Fletcher. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

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Fletcher, 34, was running near the University of Memphis campus around 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 2 when she was abducted and killed, allegedly at the hands of a stranger named Cleotha Henderson. Henderson, who has a violent criminal past, has since been hit with several charges, including first-degree murder, premeditated murderand murder in perpetration of kidnappings, in addition to other counts that include aggravated kidnapping and tampering with/fabricating evidence.

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (8)

Loved ones and the Memphis community will gather on Saturday morning to bid farewell to Tennessee teacher and mother Eliza Fletcher. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

Hundreds, if not thousands of people gathered in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning to finish Fletcher’s run after it was tragically cut short.

"We’re out here today to honor Liza and to finish her run," event organizer Danielle Heineman told the participants.

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (10)

Mourners gather at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 10, 2022, for the funeral service for Eliza Fletcher. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

"We’re just here today to run in honor of Liza, and also to show that women in this city have a right to run at 4 o’ clock in the morning or 10 at night or any time of the day," Heineman said. "And we don’t have to completely cover our bodies while we run. There should be no excuses."

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Fletcher was a married mother of two and a descendant of the Orgill fortune. She was a junior kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School and had previously taught at the Promise Academy.

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An obituary released in her memory describes her as having been "devoted" to her work and her students.

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (13)

Eliza Fletcher with her family in an undated photograph provided by the funeral home; Eliza Fletcher poses for a selfie. (Canale Funeral Directors; Liza Fletcher/Instagram)

"As with everything Liza took on, she nurtured and cared for her students with her whole heart," the obituary states. "A strong believer in the importance of personal growth, she was not afraid to be vulnerable. To the contrary, she embraced it."

It also describes the young mom as a "born athlete."

"Liza's passion for sports extended from childhood teams to collegiate competition to excellence in marathons in adulthood," according to the obituary. "She found great joy in her morning runs with friends. She channeled her competitive nature into enthusiastic participation in all that she undertook."

Fletcher was someone who "modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith."

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The page adds: "Her impact is extraordinary, as is witnessed in the prayer groups, vigils held at the homes of friends and family, church and school gatherings, and memorial runs and walks held in her honor. The outpouring of love and grief would have surprised Liza, who never thought or acted as if she were something special – though she certainly was."

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Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (16)

Liza Fletcher, a 34-year-old teacher and mother of two who was killed during her morning jog last week, will be laid to rest Saturday. (Jennifer Sink/Facebook, Memphis Police)

But her "most cherished role," the obituary states, "wasthat of wife and mother."

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"Liza was a light to all who knew her," it goes on. "Her contagious smile and laughter could brighten any room. Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the very best in everyone she met. To know her was to love her and to be loved by her."

Eliza Fletcher: Memphis funeral draws hundreds as slain mother remembered for 'bringing light' to the world (17)

Eliza Fletcher's husband, Richie Fletcher III, works as a dealership manager for a Memphis boat center and was previously a Coast Guard mechanic. (Liza Fletcher/Instagram)

Details regarding the tragedy that befell Fletcher have been scant, and police have not released information regarding how she died or the motive behind the attack.

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Deputy Attorney General Steve Mulroy said Tuesday that investigators had "no reason to think this was anything other than an isolated attack by a stranger." He did not divulge a possible motive.

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Fletcher's family has asked that any memorials be made in the form of contributions to the Liza Wellford Fletcher Memorial Fund at St. Mary's Episcopal School, Christ Methodist Day School, and Second Presbyterian Church.

FAQs

Who was Eliza Fletcher? ›

A school teacher, former University of Memphis soccer player, and granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III, Fletcher was a noted philanthropist who helped run the family-owned Memphis-based hardware supply firm Orgill Inc.

Will Eliza Fletchers funeral be held on Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis? ›

The service was held on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Second Presbyterian Church, where she reportedly met and later married her husband Richard James Fletcher III.

Who is Eliza Fletcher's grandfather? ›

Fletcher is the granddaughter of the late Joseph “Joe” Orgill III, Memphis hardware businessman and philanthropist who has supported causes including Dixon Gallery and Gardens and Church Health.

Who was Eliza Fletcher's husband? ›

Fletcher was a member of a prominent Memphis family. Her grandfather, the late Joseph Orgill III, ran a hardware company worth billions. Her 2014 wedding to Richard Fletcher was written up in Memphis Magazine, which described the bride as “outdoorsy, athletic, and warm.” The couple have two young children together.

What really happened to Eliza Fletcher? ›

Memphis PD: Body identified as Eliza Fletcher

She was on her morning run when 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson allegedly kidnapped her. The autopsy report details that Fletcher, 34, died from a gunshot wound and blunt force injury to the head. Her manner of death has been ruled a homicide.

How was Eliza Fletcher found? ›

Fletcher was running on the University of Memphis campus when she was forced into a vehicle after a struggle about 4 a.m. Sept 2. Police said her body was found Sept. 5 behind a vacant home after a massive police search lasting more than three days.

How much does a funeral cost in Memphis TN? ›

One way to ensure they are not loaded with financial worries after your death is to invest in burial insurance now.
...
Memphis.
ProductAverage CostPrice Range
Basic services$3,345$1,695 - $4,995
Embalming$748$400 - $1,095
Transportation of remains$343$150 - $535
Casket$8,000$2,000 - $13,000
3 more rows

Can you have a cremation on a Saturday? ›

You can have a funeral on any day of the week, but you'll need to ask for a specific date to secure a weekend service. Most funeral directors and religious venues will offer a funeral on a Saturday or Sunday, but there are some special considerations to keep in mind.

How many kids did Eliza Fletcher have? ›

She worked as a junior kindergarten teacher at St Mary's Episcopal School. The 34-year-old was married to Richard Fletcher III and they had two boys.

Has the Memphis teacher been found? ›

Search for Eliza Fletcher ends after 4 days, teacher found deceased in South Memphis. Police found the body of Eliza Fletcher, known as Liza, Monday afternoon in the 1600 block of Victor Street, less than a mile from where the man charged with abducting her is said to have cleaned an SUV used in the kidnapping.

What happened to the runner in Memphis? ›

A suspect was swiftly identified and has been charged with her kidnapping and murder. The killing of the 34-year-old mother of two and avid runner shocked people nationwide, and was particularly upsetting to women runners.

What is Eliza Fletcher maiden name? ›

Eliza Fletcher, née Dawson (15 January 1770 – 5 February 1858) was an English autobiographer and early travel writer.

Who Abducted Eliza Fletcher? ›

Federal marshals jailed Cleotha Abston, 38, on Saturday in connection with Fletcher's kidnapping after police detected his DNA on a pair of sandals found near where she had last been seen, according to a sworn statement justifying his arrest.

Is orgill privately owned? ›

It is the world's largest independently owned hardlines distributor. Founded in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1847, Orgill was Memphis's oldest operating private business, before it relocated to nearby Collierville in recent years.
...
Orgill (company)
TypePrivately held company
Number of employees4,868 (2020)
Websitewww.orgill.com
7 more rows

How many members does orgill have? ›

More than 350 Orgill field representatives are strategically located throughout North America. These highly trained men and women work side by side with customers to help identify and address opportunities in the dealer's local market.

What happened to Mrs Fletcher's husband? ›

Jessica is introduced as a widow in the first episode, her beloved husband Frank having died a couple of years before the start of the series.

What happened to Jessica Fletcher's husband? ›

Frank and Jessica had no children, however, they raised their young nephew Grady Fletcher after his parents were killed in a car accident. The two were married until Frank became very ill and passed away leaving Jessica widowed.

Was Eliza found? ›

Fletcher was seen on surveillance footage being forced into a vehicle, according to a police affidavit. Memphis police on Tuesday said they have found the body of Eliza Fletcher, the 34-year-old woman who was abducted while out on a run.

What happened to the runner that was abducted? ›

Investigators found Fletcher's body behind a vacant home several miles from where she was abducted. The discovery came a day after the arrest of a suspect, Cleotha Abston, who will now face murder charges on top of the kidnapping charges initially filed against him, police said.

Did they find the jogger in Memphis? ›

Fletcher was out for her typical morning run last Friday in Memphis around 4:30 a.m. when she was abducted and forced into a sport utility vehicle. She was found dead three days later about eight miles away from where she was abducted. The man accused of kidnapping and killing her is Cleotha Abston.

What is the cheapest cost of a funeral? ›

A direct burial is the funeral director's least expensive burial option. The cost will range depending on the funeral home, but it is fair to say that a direct burial can be arranged for in the region of $1,200 to $1,600.

What is the cheapest funeral or cremation? ›

Direct cremation is the most affordable final arrangement. The direct cremation cost varies, but you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the city you live in and how much the funeral home charges.

Why do funeral cost so much? ›

The truth is, the funeral industry is complex. But there are many steps involved in preparing and transporting the deceased body, preparing a lovely memorial service or funeral service, and burying the body. Each step requires specific training and some costly supplies to complete.

Which part of the body does not burn during cremation? ›

What's really returned to you is the person's skeleton. Once you burn off all the water, soft tissue, organs, skin, hair, cremation container/casket, etc., what you're left with is bone. When complete, the bones are allowed to cool to a temperature that they can be handled and are placed into a processing machine.

How long can a body sit before cremation? ›

When properly stored and cooled, a body can be kept for up to six weeks at the funeral home, so you'll have plenty of flexibility when planning your memorial service. Cremation has become an increasingly popular option for people around the country. In fact, more bodies are now cremated than buried.

What happened to the teacher in Memphis Tennessee? ›

The slain Memphis teacher was abducted before she could complete her morning run. Hundreds of people finished it for her this morning. Eliza “Liza” Fletcher routinely ran 8.2 miles in the predawn hours. But her final run ended tragically unfinished.

Where in Memphis did Eliza Fletcher live? ›

Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother and teacher, disappeared after she left her Midtown Memphis home and went for a run early Friday morning. Police said she was forced into an SUV on Central Avenue near the University of Memphis.

What is Jessica Fletchers middle name? ›

Lansbury earned Emmy nominations for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the each of the show's twelve seasons but failed to win any. Jessica's middle name is Beatrice, which was a tribute to Lansbury's best friend, actress and singer Bea Arthur, who never appeared on Murder, She Wrote (1984).

Has kidnapped jogger been found? ›

The remains were found on Sunday in a residential neighborhood. Authorities confirm found human remains are Eliza Fletcher, who was kidnapped on Friday.

Has missing Memphis woman been found? ›

(Update: Memphis Police announced Tuesday Takirra Milam had been located, a week after she was reported missing.)

Did they find a body in Memphis? ›

Memphis police said on Twitter that investigators identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, 34, a school teacher and granddaughter of a prominent Memphis businessman. The body was found Monday after a series of searches over the Labor Day weekend for the woman who was kidnapped at about 4 a.m. Friday, police said.

What happened to Eliza in Memphis? ›

Memphis Police said that Fletcher was kidnapped while jogging near the University of Memphis around 4:30 a.m. on September 2, 2022. Her body was found in a field three days later on September 5, authorities said. Cleotha Abston-Henderson, 38, was arrested and charged with Fletcher's kidnapping and murder.

What happened to Memphis mom? ›

Folks are still shocked over what happened to Eliza Fletcher— the Memphis mother of two who was kidnapped and killed while jogging. We've seen several incidents recently that highlight the importance of protection.

What time was Liza running? ›

A dedicated runner, Fletcher, known to family and friends as "Liza," finished the 2019 St. Jude marathon with a time of 3:26:09, a fast enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon, one of the most elite marathons in the world. Out of all the women running the St. Jude marathon that year, she finished 22nd.

Who plays Eliza in Phineas and Ferb? ›

Jane Horrocks: Eliza Fletcher

Jump to: Photos (4) Quotes (3)

What school did Eliza Fletcher teach? ›

Fletcher taught kindergarten at St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis. Administrators at the school said they are dealing with the grief and providing counseling to help their students deal with the tragedy.

What does Eliza Fletcher's family own? ›

The Tennessee family she comes from is behind the founding of a $3.2 billion dollar privately owned hardware company known throughout the city, according to the New York Post. Fletcher's grandfather, Joseph Orgill III ran Orgill Inc., which employs over 5,500 people.

Who Abducted Eliza Fletcher? ›

Eliza Fletcher alleged killer makes 1st court appearance

Cleotha Abston, who is accused of kidnapping and killing billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher, made his first court appearance in Memphis on Tuesday to face charges including murder and kidnapping.

Who was Eliza Fletcher father? ›

Fletcher was born at Oxton, near Tadcaster in Yorkshire, to a land surveyor named Dawson, and lived on a little family estate. Eliza was the only child of Dawson's marriage with the eldest daughter of William Hill. The mother died ten days after the birth.

Has the Memphis teacher been found? ›

Search for Eliza Fletcher ends after 4 days, teacher found deceased in South Memphis. Police found the body of Eliza Fletcher, known as Liza, Monday afternoon in the 1600 block of Victor Street, less than a mile from where the man charged with abducting her is said to have cleaned an SUV used in the kidnapping.

Where did Eliza Fletcher attend school? ›

Fletcher attended Baylor University and Belmont University, where she graduated in 2012 with a Master of Arts degree in teaching.

Did they find the kidnapped teacher? ›

The body of Eliza Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher and mother of two, was found earlier this month after she was kidnapped during her morning jog in Memphis, Tenn.

Was Eliza found? ›

Fletcher was seen on surveillance footage being forced into a vehicle, according to a police affidavit. Memphis police on Tuesday said they have found the body of Eliza Fletcher, the 34-year-old woman who was abducted while out on a run.

How was the Memphis teacher killed? ›

Eliza Fletcher, the Memphis teacher who was abducted while on an early morning jog earlier this month, died from a gunshot wound to the back of her head and blunt force injury, according to an autopsy report obtained by CNN affiliate WHBQ.

How many kids did Eliza Fletcher have? ›

She worked as a junior kindergarten teacher at St Mary's Episcopal School. The 34-year-old was married to Richard Fletcher III and they had two boys.

Who plays Eliza in Phineas and Ferb? ›

Jane Horrocks: Eliza Fletcher

Jump to: Photos (4) Quotes (3)

Why is Eliza an heiress? ›

Eliza Fletcher Was a Granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III. The 34-year-old was the granddaughter of the late Joseph Orgill III. Before his passing in 2018 at the age of 80, Orgill was a billionaire hardware magnate and philanthropist.

Was Fletcher's body found? ›

According to the Memphis television station Fox13, Fletcher's body was found within walking distance of an area where Abston was said to have been seen cleaning a GMC Terrain hours after her kidnapping.

Has missing Memphis woman been found? ›

(Update: Memphis Police announced Tuesday Takirra Milam had been located, a week after she was reported missing.)

Did they find a body in Memphis? ›

Memphis police said on Twitter that investigators identified the body of Eliza Fletcher, 34, a school teacher and granddaughter of a prominent Memphis businessman. The body was found Monday after a series of searches over the Labor Day weekend for the woman who was kidnapped at about 4 a.m. Friday, police said.

Has the Tennessee teacher been found? ›

Body of Eliza Fletcher Found Days After Tennessee Teacher Was Kidnapped During Morning Jog.

What is Jessica Fletchers middle name? ›

Lansbury earned Emmy nominations for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the each of the show's twelve seasons but failed to win any. Jessica's middle name is Beatrice, which was a tribute to Lansbury's best friend, actress and singer Bea Arthur, who never appeared on Murder, She Wrote (1984).

What city did Eliza Fletcher live in? ›

Fletcher, a mom of two, was a junior kindergarten teacher at Memphis' St. Mary's Episcopal School, where faculty and staff lit candles this week in her memory.

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