Cleotha Henderson faces multiple charges in the murder of Eliza “Liza” Fletcher, 34, who went missing while jogging early last Friday morning. The incident brought shock and grief to the Memphis community as important questions about motives and locations remain unanswered.
Henderson allegedly walked past Fletcher in an SUV while Fletcher was jogging in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis, got out of the car, and drove her into the passenger seat around 4 a.m. Friday. I chased After days of an exhaustive search, authorities recovered her body from behind a vacant duplex.
Henderson, 38, is back in court on Thursday when Shelby County Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr. is scheduled to hear the pleadings on his behalf. The judge did not elaborate on the allegations.
Prior to Thursday, Henderson had already appeared in court on Tuesday and Wednesday, where he was being arraigned, primarily on charges against him in the case.
The judge also ruled that the court would accept his legal surname as Henderson.
However, it is unclear what sentencing prosecutors plan to pursue if Henderson is found guilty.
It’s also unclear whether Henderson’s 20-plus-year-old kidnapping conviction will play a role in this case. He was released, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said. Local Outlet WREG.
Community Run to Remember Victims
In a statement, Fletcher’s family focused on honoring her memory.
“Now is the time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared for her. We are grateful for all the expressions of love and concern we have received. Liza We thank them for their tireless efforts to find out and bring justice to those responsible for this horrific crime,” Fletcher’s family said.
Memphis community members also organized an activity called “Let’s End Liza’s Run” on Friday to commemorate the avid runner.
About 2,000 runners signed up for the 8.2-mile route she regularly ran, according to organizers.
A mother of two, Fletcher was a junior kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis. School staff lit a candle in Fletcher’s memory earlier this week.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of our beloved teacher, colleague and friend Liza Fletcher,” the school said in a statement.
How the abduction unfolded, officials say
She was regularly jogging in her neighborhood near the University of Memphis, when someone found her phone on the street that morning. The person gave the phone to one of Fletcher’s relatives, who gave it to investigators, her affidavit explains.
According to the affidavit, police later found surveillance video of the area showing black GMC terrain passing by her. He was seen in the footage before running “aggressively” and pushing her into the passenger seat of the car.
After the two entered the vehicle, the SUV remained in the parking lot for about four minutes and drove off, according to the affidavit.
Police also analyzed sandals found near the victim’s phone at the abduction scene. According to the affidavit, the DNA found in the shoe matched Henderson’s DNA.
Investigators interviewed Henderson’s employer, who said he drove a GMC Terrain and verified the phone number. Investigators’ examination of Henderson’s cell phone records revealed that Henderson was near the scene of Fletcher’s kidnapping.
Members of the U.S. Marshals Task Force found GMC terrain near the Henderson home Saturday morning with the same identifiable damage seen in surveillance footage, and the license plate was collected from the video. The affidavit states that it matched the partial plate information provided.
The task force detained Henderson near his home on Saturday, according to court documents.
Police gathered details from two witnesses, including Henderson’s brother, according to the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Henderson said he cleaned the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner and washed his clothes in his home sink.
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Anne Clifford, Jamiel Lynch, Jason Hanna, Chuck Johnston, Jennifer Henderson, Tina Burnside, Hannah Sarisohn, Jennifer Feldman and AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.