Eliza Fletcher was a 34-year-old kindergarten teacher, heiress, and mother of two who was kidnapped and killed in Memphis, Tennessee, in September 2022. Her tragic death sparked a massive search and investigation, as well as a frenzy of online speculation and sleuthing. Reddit users created a subreddit dedicated to her case, where they shared information, theories, and updates. However, some of their actions also raised ethical and legal questions, as they tried to find out the truth behind Eliza Fletcher's death.
## How Eliza Fletcher Disappeared and Was Found
Eliza Fletcher was last seen alive on September 2, 2022, when she went for an early morning jog near the University of Memphis campus. Surveillance video captured her being forced into a dark-colored SUV by a man who ran after her and grabbed her. The video also showed evidence of a struggle, as Fletcher fought back and left her cell phone and water bottle on the ground.
The police launched a massive search and investigation, involving hundreds of officers, FBI agents, and volunteers. They also issued an Amber Alert and offered a $100,000 reward for any information leading to her safe return. However, their efforts were in vain, as Fletcher's body was found three days later in a wooded area, about seven miles from where she was abducted. According to the autopsy report, she died of a gunshot wound to the back of her head, and also had blunt force injuries to her face and leg. She also had fentanyl in her system, which may have been used to subdue her.
The police arrested and charged Cleotha Abston, a 38-year-old convicted felon, with Fletcher's kidnapping and murder. Abston was linked to the crime by DNA evidence, cell phone data, and surveillance footage. He was seen wearing slides that matched the ones found at the scene, and cleaning a GMC Terrain that matched the description of the vehicle used in the abduction. He also lived near the area where Fletcher's body was found. Abston pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
## How Reddit Users Got Involved in the Case
As the news of Fletcher's disappearance and death spread, many people took to social media to express their shock, sadness, and outrage. Some of them also wanted to help in any way they could, and turned to Reddit, a popular online platform where users can create and join communities on various topics. A subreddit, or a sub-community, called r/elizafletcher was created on September 3, 2022, the day after Fletcher went missing. The subreddit's description read:
> Eliza (Liza) Fletcher is a pre-kindergarten teacher and married mother of two who was abducted in the City of Memphis, Tennessee, while jogging in the early morning hours of September 2, 2022. People with information are encouraged to call the Memphis Police Department at 901-545-COPS (2677)
The subreddit quickly gained thousands of subscribers, who posted and commented on various threads related to the case. Some of the threads included:
- Updates on the search and investigation, such as news articles, press conferences, and official statements
- Information on Fletcher's background, family, and lifestyle, such as her social media profiles, photos, and videos
- Theories and speculations on the motive, identity, and location of the kidnapper and killer, such as possible suspects, connections, and clues
- Tips and suggestions on how to help or get involved in the case, such as donating, volunteering, or contacting authorities
- Discussions and debates on the ethical and legal implications of the online sleuthing, such as privacy, accuracy, and interference
The subreddit became a hub for information, support, and activism for Fletcher's case, as well as a source of curiosity, entertainment, and drama for some users. Some of the users claimed to have insider knowledge or personal connections to the case, while others questioned their credibility and motives. Some of the users also tried to contact or confront people they suspected of being involved in the case, such as Abston's family members, friends, or associates, which led to harassment, threats, and legal action.
## The Pros and Cons of Reddit's Role in the Case
The involvement of Reddit users in Fletcher's case had both positive and negative effects. On one hand, some of the users contributed to the awareness, attention, and pressure on the case, which may have helped the authorities and the public to find Fletcher and arrest Abston. Some of the users also provided emotional and financial support to Fletcher's family and friends, as well as to each other, creating a sense of community and solidarity. Some of the users also learned more about the issues and challenges related to the case, such as violence against women, human trafficking, and drug abuse, and became more informed and engaged citizens.
On the other hand, some of the users also caused harm, confusion, and interference in the case, which may have hindered the authorities and the public to find Fletcher and arrest Abston. Some of the users also violated the privacy and safety of Fletcher's family and friends, as well as of other people involved or related to the case, creating a sense of fear and distrust. Some of the users also spread misinformation, rumors, and biases related to the case, such as false accusations, conspiracy theories, and prejudice, and became more misinformed and polarized citizens.
Eliza Fletcher's death was a tragic and horrific event that shocked and saddened many people. Her case also sparked a lot of interest and involvement from Reddit users, who tried to solve the mystery and seek justice. However, their actions also raised questions and concerns about the ethics and legality of online sleuthing, and the impact of social media on crime and society. As one of the moderators of the subreddit wrote in a post:
> Regardless of the identity of this person, there is a family out there who is dealing with the worst pain they can imagine. Please be mindful of that in your replies. Thank you.