MEMPHIS, Tennessee — A woman was kidnapped while running near the University of Memphis (UofM) early Friday morning.
Her family is offering $50,000 to anyone who comes forward with information to help authorities find those responsible for her abduction.
“We look forward to Eliza’s safe return and hope that this award will help police arrest those who committed this crime,” a statement from the family said. Presented by a Buddy Champman.
UofM officials have issued a warning that a woman who runs Central Avenue regularly appears to have been kidnapped around 4:30 a.m. in the 3800 block of Central.
Photo: Woman kidnapped and put in SUV while driving near University of Memphis
Officers were dispatched around 7:45 a.m. to assist UofM personnel with missing persons in the Central and Zach Carlin neighborhoods, according to the Memphis Police Department.
A woman, identified as Eliza Fletcher, 34, was jogging in the area around 4:20 a.m. when a stranger approached her.
She was reportedly forced into an SUV and taken away, according to MPD. Around 11:30 p.m. Friday night, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) identified the van used to kidnap Fletcher as her GMC terrain in dark colors.
The suspect was in a dark SUV driving west through Central. MPD later released a photo of the vehicle.
Fletcher is a teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School.
Principal Albert Throckmorton said younger students were not informed of the kidnapping, but the school was helping older students learn the news.
The school released a letter to parents saying that counselors and pastors can support students.
“You don’t want to hear that happening,” said Hart Robinson, a family friend of Eliza Fletcher.
“She teaches, and there are two boys there who are obviously worried about a wonderful woman, the best mother.”
Robinson said Fletcher regularly runs near the University of Memphis.
“After you actually find the information and watch the video of the person being kidnapped, it will set off an alarm,” Mj. Memphis Police Department spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said.
FOX13 was there when law enforcement searched Fletcher’s house. Authorities removed several items from the residence and towed a white van before leaving for the day.
Police said Fletcher’s phone and water bottle were found in front of a Central Avenue home owned by the university.
Surveillance video from the area showed Fletcher running in the area wearing a pink sports top and blue shorts shortly before the incident.
Robinson said he only hopes she will be found safe.
“If you know anything or see anything early this morning, please come forward and help us.
“That’s how things are today. Things are going great,” said Charles Hartman of Memphis.
Hartman is reacting after learning that Fletcher was kidnapped while running in his neighborhood in East Memphis.
“It’s very peaceful here by the university, which is very unusual,” he said.
FOX13 spoke to students who said they were on alert after the incident.
“I think there will be a security team that will escort you to your car after dark, so people need to be aware of that,” Marc Provence said.
Fletcher is 5 feet 6 inches 137 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.
The MPD said her personal belongings were found but she had not returned home.
MPD gave Fletcher’s address at the 1500 block of Carr Avenue.
Both the FBI and TBI have responded to assist with the investigation.
If anyone has information about Fletcher’s abduction or whereabouts, call 911 immediately.
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