A real-life cautionary tale

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, September 13, 2022


Contributing columnist

Unfortunately, this is a true story, but hopefully the tragic ending will encourage some to make safer decisions.

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This week we saw the story of a missing Memphis woman.

On Sept. 2, 34-year old, Eliza Fletcher, a seasoned jogger and kindergarten teacher, left the safety of her home at 4 a.m. for a run before heading off to work.

No doubt she had a lot on her mind as she wended her familiar way through the neighborhood. Weather lately had been hot and humid, so she wore only a sports bra and running shorts. She was slim and trim and thought no one would see her anyway at this early hour. Her mind was likely on the events of the school day ahead and perhaps her usual breakfast.

Whatever it was, Eliza was not thinking of Stranger-Danger as she listened to the cadence of her running shoes slapping the sidewalk. Perhaps she was lost in thought and did not notice a dark van parked nearby in the pre-dawn darkness. As she passed the van she heard a door open. No one knows for sure what happened, but in an instant she was gone.

No one saw. No one heard. No one came to her rescue. Her husband and two children asleep at home could not know and could not help her.

However, with the dawn came concern from Eliza’s family and friends regarding her whereabouts. Where was Eliza? Where could she be? When she runs she is usually back by this time. Her purse was in its usual place, so she had not left early for work. Her husband called the police.

Early on Sept. 6, the cold body of this woman was found. Her captor was quickly found and arrested. His life, too, is changed forever.

I regularly walk a mile in the early evening hours. I walk as if I am in a hurry to be somewhere to discourage conversations with strangers. I sometimes wish I had a canine companion as do other walkers I see. As much as my sweet calico cat loves me, she refuses to put on a harness and walk with me. When I walk alone, I carry concealed pepper spray and pray I will never need it. I wear jeans or walking shorts with an airy blouse or shirt.

I sincerely hope the tragic story of Eliza Fletcher will remind other women who go walking or jogging in the dark to be aware of their surroundings. You never know who’s watching.