Family and friends and members of the Memphis community gathered on Saturday morning to bid farewell to Tennessee teacher and billionaire heiress Eliza Fletcher, who was kidnapped and murdered during her 4am jog last week.
Fletcher, 34, a mother-of-two, was running near the University of Memphis on September 2 when she was targeted by suspect Cleotha Henderson, a violent criminal who has been charged with her murder.
The funeral service is being held at the Second Presbyterian Church, in Memphis, where Fletcher first met her husband of eight years, Richard, and where they also married.
A children’s choir opened the services with the song, ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ which was one of Fletcher’s favorites songs that she sang for her kindergarten students.
Fletcher’s obituary stated: ‘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 strong faith, writing, ‘She truly walked and modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith.’
Family and friends attended the funeral of Eliza Fletcher, 34, a mother-of-two and billionaire heiress who was kidnapped and murdered while jogging last week in Memphis
Her family also praised Fletcher’s strong faith, writing in her obituary, ‘She truly walked and modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith’
Fletcher was last seen about 4.20am on Friday, when she was jogging (right) in Memphis and a man approached her and forced her into an SUV after a brief struggle, police said
Senior Pastor George Robertson (above) delivered the opening remarks celebrating the life of Fletcher
Eliza Fletcher is seen on her March 2014 wedding day, with her new husband Richard. The pair met at Second Presbyterian Church and were also married there
‘Liza was a light to all who knew her. 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.’
‘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,’ they wrote.
The family are requesting that anyone wishing to contribute make a donation to a fund set up in her memory at St Mary’s Episcopal school, where she taught, or at the church which played such a large part in her life.
Cleotha Abston, 38, appeared in court charged with the first-degree murder of Fletcher and could face the death penalty. He has not yet entered any pleas to the charges against him, but his public defender is considering a gag order
On Thursday Abston appeared at court in Memphis, charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence – with the judge again refusing him bail ahead of another hearing on September 19.
Jennifer Case, his public defender, initially argued that there was a conflict of interest in her representing him as her office had worked with him in a previous criminal matter in the early 2000.
However the matter was dismissed by the judge, Louis Montesi Jr, despite him agreeing to hear her arguments regarding a gag order at a later hearing.