MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thousands gathered Friday morning in the streets of Midtown Memphis to honor slain kindergarten teacher Eliza Fletcher, who was abducted and killed during a morning run in a case that has touched hearts across the nation.

Starting at 4:20 a.m., runners, bikers, and others came together to remember the murdered woman and cope with their own feelings in the aftermath of her death.

They were there to finish Eliza Fletcher’s 8.2-mile run from her Midtown home that was stopped short by her kidnapping last Friday. Fletcher made the run alone, but police provided security along the route for runners Friday.

Fletcher was abducted and killed last Friday around 4:20 a.m. as she passed the University of Memphis campus on Central. Those who knew Fletcher described her as “a bright light in our community” known for her love of running and zest for life.

📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts

For the mourners who did not know the 34-year-old mother of two, they say Friday’s efforts were a way to stand up for the women in the Mid-South and show they should be able to safely run anywhere, anytime.

Eliza Fletcher leaves behind her husband and two small children.

Her funeral is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Second Presbyterian Church here in Memphis.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

The family requests that memorials be made to the Liza Wellford Fletcher Memorial Fund at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Christ Methodist Day School, and Second Presbyterian Church.

Her alleged killer, Cleotha Abston, has been in court several times this week on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence. His motive is not known.