Eliza Fletcher abduction: How women can stay safe while running

The search for Eliza “Liza” Fletcher has captivated much of the country since her disappearance.

Fletcher, the 34-year-old teacher and mother of two, had been on an early-morning run around 4:20 a.m. CDT in Memphis when she didn’t come home Friday morning.

UPDATED: 9/6/2022 We are heartbroken by the outcome of this case but are proud of the work of Memphis Police Department....

Posted by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Police said Fletcher was approached by a man and forced into a vehicle, who then drove off, WHBQ reported.

Fletcher’s body was found Monday in South Memphis, several miles from where she was last seen.

Cleotha Abston, 38, is facing charges of murder and kidnapping.

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Fletcher’s case is the latest of several women who were killed while out on a run, “Good Morning America” and ABC News reported.

Some of these victims include:

Fletcher’s murder is now prompting women to speak about the situation of exercising alone and outside, and the potential dangers they face.

One Twitter user wrote that she understood why Fletcher was running so early.

She likely only did something for herself ... like running ... when her kids were asleep so that she could give as much of her time to them as possible,” the user wrote according to “Good Morning America.”

Robin Lewis, who works at a running store in Virginia, spoke with WSLS about similar cases where women who were running were attacked, saying, “This really hits home with us. We personally know two women who have been attacked while running, and they were in broad daylight. Fortunately, they survived, but you never know what could happen.”

There are steps runners can take when they’re logging miles.

1. Share your running route

James DeMarco, owner of RunAbout Sports in Blacksburg, Virginia, told WSLS to first let someone know your running plan, including route and estimated return time.

Runners and their families or friends can use a tracking app to keep tabs on the runner’s location.

“There are apps that you really just push one button to let your loved ones, let EMS and police know that, ‘Hey I’m hurt’ or ‘Hey I’ve been attacked or something’s not right,’” DeMarco told WSLS.

2. Be aware of self-defense techniques

Jennifer Cassetta, a self-defense expert, told “Good Morning America” in 2018 after the deaths of Martinez and Tibbets, that women need to run or walk with their shoulders back and head up. She also said to make eye contact with every person you come across.

If a runner is attacked, Cassetta said to drop to a squat or lunge to lower the center of gravity and make it more difficult for an attacker to throw a person to the ground.

Cassetta also said to fight back and hit soft targets like the eyes, throat and groin. “Scratch or gouge the eyes, give a punch to the throat to disrupt breathing and give a punch or a knee or an elbow to the groin,” she told “Good Morning America.”

She also said to carry non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray, a personal alarm or a sharp object that can be worn as a piece of jewelry, and know how to use them.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

You don’t have to avoid music and headphones, just keep the volume low enough so you can hear what’s going on, Cassetta said.

4. Run with a group if possible

Bryan Roberson, co-owner of Breakaway Running in Memphis, told WHBQ, “The main thing is if you have the availability to run with other people, group runs are great.”

“Because if someone is there with you, the likelihood that someone will try and attack you, kidnap you, whatever the case may be, whatever their intentions are, that likelihood is going to decrease exponentially just by the fact that you’re there with someone else,” Kasie Davis, the public information officer for the Lubbock Police Department, told KJTV.

5. Vary the routine

While a runner may have a favorite route to run, Roberson said to vary the route. Don’t run at the same place every day.

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