First, let me say, I am absolutely gutted and heartbroken for Eliza’s family. I can’t even begin to understand the amount of pain and suffering they have endured since Eliza went missing. Knowing she will never come home to her two young children again just isn’t fair.
As I’ve closely watched the news and read the articles and comments being posted, I keep seeing one opinion popping up over and over. It’s stated mostly as a question, actually. “Why was she, a woman, running at 4 am, in Memphis, in the dark?” I let that one sit on my heart for the last couple of days so I would do my best to formulate my thoughts without any emotion. That’s nearly impossible. I’m going to try, though.
As a Memphian, I’d say that the area she was running in is “usually” considered safer than most within the city proper. I did not know Eliza, but I can only guess that she chose to jog that early because she was a mother of two young children and a school teacher, which left her with little time elsewhere throughout her day to get her run in. Most people I know who jog regularly, especially in the summertime here in Memphis, prefer early morning hours so the heat and humidity isn’t overwhelming. (It just oozes from the concrete and asphalt until late in the evening.) I would assume she also felt relatively safe in that area as she lived and worked there, knew a lot of people and had a comfortable level of familiarity built up.
Now, let’s discuss the fact that she was a WOMAN jogging alone that early. I’ve seen it asked, “How could a HUSBAND let his WIFE go jogging alone in the dark in Memphis?” (Ohhh, I’ll address THAT bit of idiocy in just a bit.) I’ve even seen comments suggesting she was just asking for something to happen to her by going for that run at 4 am in Memphis, alone, unarmed. Keyboard warriors can be so utterly archaic in their thoughts while hiding behind their computer screens.
I, too, was the victim of an assault and I’d like to share my story with you as I pose my thoughts on this horrible act of violence.
Several years ago I was living in Little Rock, Arkansas; a part of the country in which nearly ALL the citizens believe in the right to bear arms and DO. I lived in Maumelle, which was just across the river from Little Rock. The area I lived in was beautiful, safe and a very small, tight community. However, I was followed and assaulted by a man, in broad daylight, in front of SEVERAL witnesses. He rammed my driver side door in on my car, pinning me in and attempted to get in to me. I was at a gas station at this point, as he had followed me for several miles. I had tried to call my boyfriend while I was still driving, who was a concealed carry permit instructor and always carried no less than 4 handguns on him at all times. He was in meetings and didn’t answer, so I hung up and called 911. They were on the phone with me for the rest of my ordeal. A police officer who just so happened to be across the street on another call saw this man ram into the driver side door of my car with his truck (at such a high rate of speed the officer said my car came off the ground 3 feet in the air). The officer ran across the street and tackled the man as he got to my car door and was reaching into his pants pocket.
I’m white, this man was white. I’d never set eyes on him before and to this day I don’t know if he was stalking me or not. The area I was in was affluent, had no history of this type of crime, and it was 11 am on a weekday. I can tell you for certain the man had ZERO good intentions. What was staring at me through that car window was nothing but pure evil. I will NEVER forget the look in his eyes. I was one of the lucky ones, as this officer saved my life. He told me later he fully expected to see a dead person sitting there from the force of the truck ramming into my driver door, or worse, witness my murder before he could get to me. I had to be pulled out the passenger side, and NO ONE ELSE HELPED. They all just stood there recording everything from the time I got in the parking lot until it was all over. At the time of the assault, I was currently in the process of getting my concealed carry permit, and you better believe I finished qualifications as soon as I was able afterwards.
My point? It doesn’t matter If it’s day or night, if you are a man, woman, white, black, yellow, purple, green, or pink. It doesn’t matter if you are alone or with someone or if there’s a crowd. EVIL WILL DO AS IT PLEASES, WHEN IT PLEASES.
STOP saying she shouldn’t have been running when she was, where she was, alone as she was. Evil people will do their bidding when they want. Just look at all the mass shootings happening in schools and grocery stores of late.
Now, do I think she should have been carrying a gun or some other form of protection. Yep. I don’t say that because she was running in Memphis, at 4 am, as a woman, alone. I say that because of the pure fact that evil will do as it pleases, WHEN it pleases. It’s not a Memphis thing, it’s not a woman or man thing, it’s a world thing. Crime is EVERYWHERE these days, and EVERYONE must be more vigilant. (I also want to say we (the public) don’t know for certain that she wasn’t carrying something (pepper spray, etc) for protection. Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare, if you are caught off guard and with full force, such as Eliza was, you don’t have time to reach for that protection.) Unfortunately, in her case, it appears that the suddenness and brute force of the attack rendered her powerless in a very short amount of time.
What should be happening is more people need to be getting together in their communities, getting to know each other, building up their own neighborhood relationships and being more vigilant watching out for each other. We’ve unfortunately become a world of people isolated from each other and this desperately needs to change. Everyone should know how to defend themselves and should be acutely aware of their surroundings, always. Not just at 4 in the morning. The politicians being voted into their positions should be thoroughly vetted by voters before going to the polls so you know where they stand on punishing criminals, etc.
For what it’s worth:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new law takes effect July 1 in Tennessee that will keep some criminals locked up longer. The “Truth in Sentencing” law takes effect. It requires offenders serve 100 percent of their sentence for certain violent crimes like murder, especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated burglary.
As for those saying her husband shouldn’t have allowed her to run alone at 4 am. Try telling a good ole Southern woman she SHOULDN’T do this or that, and see how well you fare. Good luck with that. Women AREN’T property to be told what to do (oooh, the things I could say on this, but will save for another post another day). Who’s to say the two of them, as equals in their marriage, hadn’t already discussed that exact subject and felt as if they had come to a good solution they both agreed upon?
It isn’t just about Eliza, y’all. It’s also about all the other folks who don’t make the national headlines. A woman and her small child were abducted last week from a Target by two armed men (again folks were all around) and forced to take money out of an ATM and then returned to the parking lot. I SHOP AT THIS TARGET ALL THE TIME. A MAN was abducted when the car he was sleeping in the backseat of was carjacked, and as of this writing, I’m looking at the Memphis PD Twitter account and it shows yet another missing woman. It’s endless, and it’s horrendous.
Please, be hyper aware of your surroundings. I hate to say it, but as women, we ARE considered a more vulnerable target. I’m a walking statistic who had a good outcome. I DO believe in carrying a gun, and I believe you should be properly vetted and trained to own and operate said gun. Don’t stop at a weapon, though. Think smart, prepare to the best of your ability, and use ANY and EVERYTHING within your reach should you find yourself being assaulted. SCREAM, YELL, KICK, FIGHT, RUN. This isn’t advice for women only, but for children and men, too. I used to walk this city, especially downtown, all night long. I’d bar hop on Beale, go down to a bar near the Pyramid, and walk back at ALL hours of the night. How I survived without any issues is beyond me. That was 20 years ago. Living in the city as I do, I don’t hardly go outside in my yard at night these days. I hear gunshots all the time. Last night two children were shot less than a mile from my house. It’s a very real and present danger.
Eliza Fletcher will never come home again. Her family has been gutted, and her children will forever live with the loss of their mother in their hearts and souls, and that’s the saddest part of this entire situation.
May she Rest In Peace and may the piece of shit who did this to her get what he deserves.