Getting Answers: staying safe while out jogging

The kidnapping of a Tennessee teacher while out on a morning jog is sending shock waves throughout local communities.
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 4:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The kidnapping of a Tennessee teacher while out on a morning jog is sending shock waves throughout local communities. Her body has now been discovered and a suspect is behind bars.

The body of 34-year-old school teacher and mother, Eliza Fletcher, was found Monday after she was abducted early Friday morning while on a jog in Memphis. Police said she was running at around 4:30 a.m. when a black SUV allegedly pulled up and someone inside forcefully threw her in the car. Surveillance video and DNA evidence leading them to a suspect: 38-year-old Cleotha Abston.

The horrific situation out of Tennessee has many people in the community talking, so Western Mass News decided to get answers on how runners in western Massachusetts can keep themselves safe. We headed to 4Run3 in East Longmeadow and spoke to owner Tim Murphy. He said switching up your running schedule may help keep you safe from potential predators.

“Maybe not running the same routine every time, like a different route, leaving a different time,” Murphy noted.

He also told us running in pairs is always a good idea and if you have no one to run with, joining a running club, like the one at 4Run3 can be a useful communication tool.

“Folks will go on there, it’s an open forum, so a lot of times will just go on and say ‘Hey, we’ve had a fun run to do in the morning. Is anybody free?’ A lot of times, I meet right here in the store and run from the parking lot,” Murphy added.

He said that this time of year, avid runners are going out earlier to get in longer runs before work, which can make it harder to find running partners and Murphy pointed out that the victim was a kindergarten teacher, who may have been running before heading to the classroom. However, Springfield Police spokesperson Ryan Walsh advised against running alone in the dark.

“If you can’t run in a group and you can only run at those certain times, it’s potentially a risk for you, whether it’s with cars or with this horrific abduction that was in Tennessee,” Walsh explained.

However, Walsh added that if you do run by yourself, always be aware of your surroundings and keep your distance if something seems out of the ordinary. He said to go another direction and try to find a group. He also advised not to wear headphones and to carry something for your protection, such as pepper spray or mace.