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Memphis teacher Eliza Fletcher died from a gunshot wound to the back of her head, autopsy reveals

<i>Memphis Police Department</i><br/>Eliza Fletcher
Memphis Police Department
Eliza Fletcher

By Jamiel Lynch, Jessica Flynn and Alaa Elassar, CNN

Eliza Fletcher, the Memphis teacher who was abducted while on an early morning jog earlier this month, died from a gunshot wound to the back of her head and blunt force injury, according to an autopsy report obtained by CNN affiliate WHBQ.

“Autopsy examination revealed a perforating gunshot wound of the head,” the report from the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center said. “Based on all the currently known and available information, the cause of death is gunshot wound and blunt force injury of the head and the manner of death is homicide.”

Police say that 38-year-old Cleotha Henderson allegedly passed by the 34-year-old teacher in an SUV while she was jogging in a neighborhood near the University of Memphis on September 2.

Authorities allege Henderson got out of the vehicle and chased Fletcher, eventually forcing her into the passenger seat around 4 a.m. in the morning. Fletcher’s body was discovered four days later behind a vacant complex.

Henderson has been charged with Fletcher’s murder. He remains in the Shelby County jail on no bond.

Fletcher, a mom of two, was a junior kindergarten teacher at Memphis’ St. Mary’s Episcopal School. She was an avid runner who routinely ran 8.2 miles in the predawn hours before her final run ended tragically unfinished.

A week to the day she vanished during her workout, members of Fletcher’s community gathered to symbolically complete her last run. More than 2,100 people signed up to run Fletcher’s route in an event dubbed, “Let’s Finish Liza’s Run.”

Her obituary, published by local news site The Daily Memphian, described her as “a light to all who knew her.”

“Her contagious smile and laughter could brighten any room,” it read. “Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the very best in everyone she met.”

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