Eliza Fletcher: Memphis teacher dies of self-inflicted gunshot wound to back of head, autopsy reveals


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

“An autopsy examination revealed a penetrating gunshot wound to the head,” the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center report said. “Based on all information known and available at this time, the cause of death is gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma to the head and the manner of death is homicide.”

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

Authorities say Henderson got out of the vehicle and chased after Fletcher, eventually forcing him into the passenger seat around 4 a.m. Fletcher’s body was found 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 kindergarten teacher at Memphis’ St. at Mary’s Episcopal School. He was an avid runner, running 8.2 kilometers in the pre-dawn hours before his last race tragically ended without a finish.

A week to the day he disappeared in training, members of Fletcher’s community gathered to symbolically finish his last race. More than 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s route in an event called “Let’s Finish Liz’s Run.”

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

“His contagious smile and laugh could brighten any room,” it said. “Liza was pure-hearted and innocent in the way she saw the best in everyone she met.”