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South Florida runners on alert following murder of Memphis mother who was jogging

Eliza Fletcher
Posted at 4:44 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 18:12:19-04

STUART, Fla. — Runners around the country and in South Florida have been reacting to the abduction and killing of a Memphis mother.

Eliza Fletcher was out for a morning run near Memphis when investigators said she was abducted and killed.

In Florida's grueling summer heat, Laurie Copeland opts for an afternoon walk. But in the dark, cooler mornings, she'll run for miles.

"All the stars are out and it can be very beautiful," Copeland said.

But runners know that running in the dark poses its own dangers, which is why Copeland is almost always with a group.

"We could have like, two or three people or we can have 20," Copeland said.

This week, runners have safety even more on their mind with the death of Fletcher, a mom and teacher who was getting in an early morning run near Memphis when she was abducted and killed, according to investigators.

"Hust heartbreaking and terrifying too because that could be any of us," Copeland said. "In fact, the morning that she ran, I was out there at 4 a.m. by myself in a long stretch."

Copeland is far from alone in a new sense of nervousness while hitting the pavement. But runners around the country and here at home are now dedicating their runs to Fletcher in a show of solidarity.

A group in downtown Stuart wore all white Thursday morning. Copeland’s running group did the same. Even a virtual run has been advertised on social media for Friday.

At Fleet Feet of Stuart, store owner Edgar Perkins said customers are talking about Fletcher's death.

"People are saddened. A lot of frustration. A lot of anger," Perkins said.

They took to social media to start a safety conversation between runners for tips and ideas to feel comfortable on a run.

"In our training groups and things, we’re always talking about run in a group, find a running buddy on those early morning runs, let somebody know where you’re going to be and how long you’re going to be out," Perkins said.

Perkins also said keep out the ear buds.

"You just can’t hear the ambient noises around you," Perkins said.

They sell mace for runners and a clip-on siren runners can pull to scare off an attack and grab others' attention.

"It pulls and then it’s a loud siren. It’s as loud as an ambulance siren," Perkins said.

In Fletcher's honor and memory, Copeland is hoping others with a passion for running continue prioritizing safety and not let fear sparked from Fletcher's attack make them hang it up.

"Don’t give up. You have to keep going," Copeland said.