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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

'Don’t let the evil in the world take away from what you enjoy' people jog in honor of Liza Fletcher

The community is coming together this morning to ‘finish the run’ for Eliza Fletcher, the slain Memphis mother who was killed while out for a morning jog.

“And it sucks to get up, but it also sucks not to get to go home to your family. So, keep that in mind today, as you take on this run or walk,” ‘Finish Eliza's Run’ Jonesboro organizer Callie Talley said.

Runners of all ages turned out to the griffin training center bright and early to finish Eliza’s run. In honor of the Memphis teacher who was kidnapped and killed during her four am jog near the University of Memphis campus.

“I don't get up early, so it was kind of tough, but I just felt like that I needed to do something. And run for her and all those other people that haven’t been able to come home,” participant and jogger Julie Rogers said.

Attendees left the Griffin Training Center on Washington Avenue before going over the Marion Berry overpass. They circled the A-State campus before heading back to the gym.

While participants could take the three-mile run at their own pace- they were all in it together.

“I hope it sends the message to don't stop doing what you love. Don’t let the evil in the world take away from what you enjoy,” said Talley.

The mother of two was jogging near the Tennessee campus on September 2 when she was kidnapped. Her body was found after a four-day search. Cleotha Abston, 38 was arrested and charged. The man-who has a long criminal history- is being held without bond.

Rogers, a mother and runner, says the situation is hard to grapple with.

“Doing something you’ve done day in and day out and not being able to come home to your kids, your husband, and your family. It’s hard, and it was just very emotional.”

In 2020, Jackson County nurse Sydney Sutherland was out for a jog near Newport when she was abducted, raped, and killed. An acquaintance of twenty-five-year-old Sutherland was arrested for her murder. He pleaded guilty to multiple charges and is serving a life sentence.

For Talley, Fletcher's story hit home.

“We, just two years ago, did the same thing for Sydney Sutherland, and we had a similar response. And that was big because i grew up in Grubbs, I knew Sydney personally.”

Before the run, attendees said a prayer and paused for a moment of silence. Finish Eliza’s Run shines a light on the dangers woman face when out for a jog. Something that many take for granted.

“It shouldn’t of happened to her. Was she in the wrong place at the wrong time? No. She was doing what she loved, and someone took it from her. So, take today and remember you’re getting the opportunity to do something you love,” Talley said.

Officers from the Jonesboro Police Department accompinied the jog. Safety- it’s something Rogers says she thinks about as she runs alone.

“I do think of my surroundings, and I have certain things that I do and that I’m aware of. After certain things that have happened, it does make you think, and think ‘ok, how, should i take more precautions?”

Gym members who know the Fletcher family approached Talley about hosting the memorial run- as they did for Sutherland two year ago. The gym also hosts memorial workouts for fallen police officers twice a year. It was a "yes" right away- but the support was more than she expected.

“[I] Got on Canva, put something together, and it was out, and we had one hundred shares by the end of the day. I’m about to get teared up. It’s super overwhelming seeing man people, men, women, adults, kids show up and support and say ‘hey, we’re not gonna let this bring us down.’”


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