Eliza Fletcher: Memphis teacher died of gunshot wound to back of head, autopsy reveals


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

“Autopsy examination revealed a perforating gunshot wound to the head,” the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center report said. “Based on all currently known and available information, the cause of death is gunshot and blunt force trauma to the head and the manner of death is homicide.”

Police say 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson allegedly passed the 34-year-old teacher in an SUV while jogging in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis on Sept. 2.

Authorities allege Henderson got out of the vehicle and chased after Fletcher, eventually forcing her into the passenger seat around 4 a.m. Fletcher’s body was discovered four days later behind a vacant complex.

Henderson has been charged with Fletcher’s murder. He remains in the Shelby County Jail without bond.

Fletcher, a mother of two, was a junior kindergarten teacher at Memphis’ St. Mary’s Episcopal School. She was an avid runner who routinely ran 8.2 miles in the pre-dawn hours before her last run ended tragically unfinished.

A week to the day she disappeared during her training, members of Fletcher’s community gathered to symbolically complete her final run. More than 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s route in an event called “Let’s Finish Liza’s Run.”

Her obituary, published by local news site The Daily Memphian, described her as “a light to all who knew her.”

“Her contagious smile and laugh could light up any room,” it said. “Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the very best in everyone she met.”

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