Runners in cities throughout the country gathered early Friday morning to honor and mourn the life of Eliza "Liza" Fletcher, a Memphis mother and teacher who was abducted while jogging and later found dead.
Fletcher, a 34-year-old marathon runner, was reported missing by her husband the morning of Sept. 2 when she never came home from her regular 4 a.m. run, according to an affidavit.
She was last seen while on her a 10-mile route in midtown Memphis around 4:20 a.m. sporting a pink top and purple shorts when she was approached by a man and forced into a car, police said. The violent abduction was captured on surveillance video.
Her family pleaded for information on her whereabouts in the hours following her kidnapping. Her remains were found in a South Memphis residential neighborhood several miles from where she was abducted and identified Tuesday, police said.
A suspect in the homicide, 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson, was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder, premeditated murder and first-degree perpetration of kidnapping. He has yet to enter a plea on the charges and is next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 19.
Fletcher's murder prompted outrage and heartbreak from runners, many of whom took to the streets following her disappearance in pink tops and purple shorts to work out in her honor. On Friday, a week after what turned out to be her last run, thousands of people across the country set out to finish it.
In her hometown of Memphis, hundreds held candles during an early-morning vigil for Fletcher.
"#Memphis is one of the greatest cities in America. The outpouring of love for #ElizaFletcher and our community this morning is another reason why," Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said on Twitter. "We will not recede into the shadows. We’re going to let it shine."
Several women have been killed during runs in recent years, highlighting the ongoing dangers that face- female runners.
"You can go out at noon and suffer harassment or suffer violence. Women know that all too well, whether it's running or just in their daily life," Beth Meadows, the race director at Nashville Running Company, told ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN at the city's run on Friday. "That's another reason to why I think everyone across the country is running at this time of day, to say, you know, women should be safe at all hours."
Jenny Fogo organized a run in honor of Fletcher in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"Like so many women today, I feel that I am Liza -- I am a mom, and I a wife, a runner," she told ABC Chattanooga affiliate WTVC. "For her situation to end up the way it did is just horrifying and hard to wrap your head around."
Runners also gathered in solidarity at the same time in cities including Tupelo, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; Boston; and Philadelphia.
"She’s a teacher, she was a mother, and she was doing a thing we all love doing," Scott Heigl-Yates told ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.
The runs come as Fletcher's loved ones will soon gather to lay her to rest, with funeral services scheduled for Saturday morning.
Fletcher's family said in a statement that they "heartbroken and devastated" by the loss of Fletcher, whom they described as a "joy to so many."
"Now it's time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her," the statement read. "We appreciate all the expressions of love and concern we have received. We are grateful beyond measure to local, state and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible for this horrible crime."