Autopsy Reveals Eliza Fletcher Died from Gunshot Wound to the Head

An autopsy has revealed the cause of death of a Memphis woman, who was abducted in September while jogging. 

“Eliza Fletcher, 34, had a gunshot wound to the back of her head, blunt-force injuries to a leg and jaw fractures, according to an autopsy completed by the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center in Memphis,” according to Fox News. 

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1,000 Memphis First Responders Will Newly Qualify for Benefits from 1978 Pension Plan, Pending City Council Approval

The City of Memphis announced Wednesday that roughly 1,000 first responders will qualify to take part in the city’s 1978 pension plan, pending the Memphis City Council’s approval.

“I am happy to say that we have agreed with the association to provide those firefighters and police officers who currently do not qualify for the 1978 pension plan  – those hired since July 1, 2016, and all future hires – to have the option to choose the 1978 or the 2016 pension plan beginning July 1, 2023, subject to city council approval. Currently, there are about 1,000 firefighters, police officers, and dispatchers who would qualify,” Mayor Jim Strickland said.

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Memphis City Council Discusses the Enforcement of Curfew for Minors Under 18 Years Old

During a public safety committee, on Tuesday, The Memphis City Council discussed strictly enforcing the Memphis curfew for children 17 and under.  

Vice Chairman Martavius Jones said, “Juvenile Crime has spiked over the years…I commend our men and women in blue for all that they are doing. However, the things that are on the books, we definitely want to make those things happen…One thing that we do know, if they are in the house, a lot of this wouldn’t be happening. If they [children] were at home, under parental supervision, some of these things wouldn’t be happening.”

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Memphis Museum Cancels Drag Show Amid Protests

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) Monday confirmed that it did not shut down a drag show at the Memphis Museum of Science and History (MoSH), but that the museum canceled the event due to protests. 

“Management of the Pink Palace chose to cancel all events [Friday], MPD Public Information Officer Theresa Carlson told The Tennessee Star. “MPD was asked to assist. No incidents occurred and no arrests were made.”

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Shaterra Reed Marion Appointed as Judge on the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims

Shaterra Reed Marion was appointed as a judge on the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims in Memphis, by new Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator Troy Haley the state Department of Labor & Workforce (TDLW) announced Wednesday.

“Shaterra Reed Marion will be a welcome addition to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims in Memphis. She has the heart of a public servant and, as a judge, I know she will be fair to all parties and reflect the values for which the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims is known,” Haley said.

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Memphis Record Pressing Predicted to Become North America’s Largest Producer of Vinyl Records

Memphis Record Pressing, located in Bartlett, Tennessee, is predicted to be North America’s largest producer of vinyl records by next year. Producing around 130,000 records a day, Memphis Record Pressing will produce over 10 million records this year.

Brandon Seavers, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Record Pressing, said, “It’s a humbling experience for me, and for Mark as well, to see where we are today. Literally every day when I drive up, I say, ‘This is not real. There is no way that we are manufacturing a legacy, analog format/medium in the 21st century, and we’re actually breaking ground and constructing a new facility to do this.”

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TBI’s Average Turnaround Time for Rape Kit Analysis Is 45 Weeks

According to data provided to The Tennessee Star by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the average time it takes for the state law enforcement agency to conduct analysis on sexual assault kits (SAKs) submitted to it by local law enforcement is 45 weeks. 

That figure accounts for SAKs that are reviewed by TBI’s Jackson crime lab. In its Nashville lab, TBI tests and analyzes SAKs in about 25 weeks. In its Knoxville lab, that figure is around 30 weeks. 

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Soft-on-Crime Shelby County DA Says Fletcher Murder ‘Isolated Attack’

Despite reports that the suspect in the Eliza Fletcher’s kidnapping and murder has now been charged with a separate abduction and rape in 2021, Shelby County District Attorney, who ran his campaign on criminal justice reform, says the Fletcher incident was an “isolated attack.”

Cleotha Abston Thursday was charged separately with aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and unlawful carrying of a weapon stemming from an event that allegedly occurred in 2021, though details were not immediately available.

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Alleged Memphis Mass Shooter Recently Released from Prison Early After Attempted Murder Charge

A 19-year-old who allegedly committed multiple Memphis, Tennessee, shootings Wednesday had been released from prison less than a year into a three-year sentence, according court filings obtained by Newsweek.

Ezekiel Kelly was arrested Wednesday night after allegedly killing four people and injuring three, while suspected to have live-streamed an attack at an AutoZone store, the outlet reported. Kelly was charged in 2020 with attempted first-degree murder and reckless endangerment and possession of a firearm with intent to commit a felony before pleading guilty to aggravated assault and receiving a three-year incarceration sentence beginning in June 2021.

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Roger Simon Comments on Memphis Murder Spree Suspect, Crime in America’s Cities, and the Role of DAs

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Roger Simon in studio to comment upon the uptick in crime that is plaguing Democratic-run cities across the country and the role of District Attorneys.

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Bail Revoked for Defendant in Killing of Eliza Fletcher, After Being Charged with Murder

The defendant in the killing of Tennessee teacher Eliza Fletcher was on Wednesday ordered held without bond, after he was charged with first-degree murder.

“In light of the change of circumstance, I’m going to order that there be no bond,” said a Shelby County Circuit judge. “The $500,000 bond is revoked.”

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Crom’s Crommentary: Root Causes Behind the Cycle of Violence Plaguing Black and Hispanic Lower-Income Communities

Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio for another edition of Crom’s Crommentary.

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Police Confirm Body Found Is Kidnapped Tennessee Teacher, Jogger

Police in Tennessee confirmed Tuesday the body found over the weekend is that of teacher Eliza Fletcher, who went missing days earlier on a morning run.

The Memphis police department on Sunday said it had charged Cleotha Abston, 38, with evidence tampering and aggravated kidnapping in connection with Fletcher’s disappearance early Friday morning.

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U.S. Marshals Arrest Man in Tennessee Jogger’s Disappearance

U.S. Marshals arrested a man in connection to the allegedly “violent” disappearance of Tennessee elementary school teacher Eliza Fletcher, who went missing while jogging early Friday morning.

Cleotha Abston, 38, was charged Sunday with aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence, hours after law enforcement found him inside of an SUV they were searching for in connection to the disappearance. Fletcher, a 34-year-old mother of two young boys and granddaughter of a hardware company billionaire, has not been found.

Authorities arrested Abston after his DNA matched DNA that was found on shoes left near where Fletcher was kidnapped.

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Customs and Border Protection Seizes Ancient Egyptian Artifact in Memphis

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of Memphis, Tenn., seized an ancient Egyptian artifact that is at least 2,600 years old in a shipment from Europe meant for a private U.S. buyer.

The artifact was the stone lid of an Egyptian canopic jar, which was used to hold the internal organs of mummies. The jar featured the face of Imsety, a funeral deity that protected the deceased’s liver in the ancient Egyptian religion.

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Three Tennessee Cities Ranked Among 25 Cheapest to Live in America

Three cities in Tennessee are among the cheapest to live in the United States, according to a recently-published Kiplinger report. 

To measure the cheapest cities in the United States, Kiplinger calculated the cost of living in 267 cities using a standard Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). It then narrowed its results to cities with populations of more than 50,000 people. 

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Memphis, Nashville School Districts to Make Education Savings Accounts Available to Families

According to the governor’s office and the cities of Memphis and Nashville, more than 40 independent have committed to allowing families to enroll in Education Savings Account (ESA) programs beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year. 

“There was an urgent need for school choice in 2019, and finally, parents in Memphis and Nashville won’t have to wait another day to choose the best educational fit for their children,” said Gov. Bill Lee (R). “I thank each school that has partnered with us to swiftly implement a program that will change the lives of Tennessee students, and I invite interested families to begin the enrollment process today.” 

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Tennessee Star Supreme Court Justice Series: Major Opinions by Justice Holly Kirby

As Tennesseans prepare to head to the polls on August 4, where they will vote on whether to retain the state’s five Supreme Court justices, The Tennessee Star has completed a profile on each justice currently sitting on the bench.

Last week, The Star profiled Justice Holly Kirby. 

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Memphis Officials Silent After Vowing Not to Enforce State Abortion Law

Officials in the city of Memphis are silent after the City Council pledged not to follow Tennessee’s law restricting abortions, which takes effect in August and would make performing an abortion a felony offense for doctors. 

Tuesday, Councilman JB Smiley introduced a resolution Reproductive Autonomy Is Necessary (RAIN) Act, which was subsequently passed by a vote of 6-0, with two members of the City Council abstaining. 

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Democrat Gubernatorial Candidate JB Smiley Jr. Receives Endorsement from AFSCME Local 1733

 AFSCME Local 1733 endorsed Democratic candidate JB Smiley, Jr. on Monday to be the next Tennessee governor. 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the largest trade union of public employees in the United States. The group “believes that every person working to sustain their community deserves respect.”

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Trump Scorches January 6 Committee at Memphis Rally

Former President Donald Trump Saturday took aim at his political rivals on the Select Committee on January 6, which for weeks has been holding televised hearings about the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. 

“This horrible, stupid crazy committee, which is totally partisan – did you ever see… actually the worst person is – by the way, [Wyoming Rep.] Liz Cheney is down 35 points,” Trump said, referencing the congresswoman who is a ringleader of the committee. “She’s actually the worst one on the committee.”

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Anti-Gun Group to Host Protests in Six Tennessee Cities

An anti-gun group will host protests in five cities later this month, as part of a nationwide effort to push gun control in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“What we are demanding from our state’s legislators should not be controversial, and will help to prevent preventable deaths in our communities,” said Carson Ferrara, a rising senior at Vanderbilt University and representative of March For Our Lives. “Last year, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a law that allows anyone to carry a loaded gun in public without a permit. He signed it at a weapons manufacturing plant.”

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Burchett: Hospitalization of Infants Who Couldn’t Get Baby Formula ‘Absolutely Tragic’

A U.S. Congressman from Tennessee spoke out after news that two infants in Memphis were hospitalized because special baby formula they needed for medical conditions could not be found. 

“Absolutely tragic,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) told The Tennessee Star. “This nationwide crisis is landing kids in the hospital, and it’s unacceptable this is happening here in the United States. All our economic might doesn’t mean a thing if we still can’t protect our children.”

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Department of Justice, Local Leaders Announce Agreement to Combat Violent Crime in West Tennessee

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and local leaders in West Tennessee are working together in order to reduce violent crime, according to a release from the DOJ.

United States Attorney Joseph C. Murphy Jr., joined by non-profit organizations, clergy leaders, and other community leaders, announced a new “Better Community Summit” effort to tackle the crimes.

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Commentary: Democrats Can’t Hide from Their Record on Defund the Police

In January, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked those concerned about crime, laughing and flippantly asking “soft on crime consequences…what does that even mean?”

For Tennesseans, it means 346 homicides in Memphis last year alone, the deadliest year on record for drug overdoses in Nashville at 712 reported overdoses, and more lives at risk from senseless violence.

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TDOT Set to Begin $140 Million Project to Complete Infrastructure Improvements on the I-55 and Crump Interchange in Memphis

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) awarded a construction contract to Bell & Associates Construction, LLC to complete infrastructure improvements on the I-55 and Crump interchange, including I-55 bridge repairs, the department announced Friday in a press release.

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House Sponsor Holds Meeting to Hear Opponents of Bill That Preempts Local Governments from Prohibiting Energy Infrastructure, Legislation Advances in Tennessee Senate

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – A meeting to hear opponents of a bill that preempts local governments from prohibiting energy infrastructure was held Monday morning by the House bill sponsor. Meanwhile, the Senate version of the bill advanced through the committee process.

Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville), sponsor of HB2246, announced that he scheduled the meeting during the March 8 meeting of the House Commerce Committee he chairs. During the same committee meeting, Vaughan bid adieu to the Interstate Compact bill he also sponsored, The Tennessee Star reported.

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Memphis Felon Pleads Guilty to Calling In a Bomb Threat and Being in Possession of a M-1 Rifle, Ammunition

Christopher Cobb, 33, pled guilty to communicating a threat against a federal agency and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a press release by the Western District of Tennessee U.S. Attorney’s Office. Joseph C. Murphy Jr., United States Attorney, announced the guilty plea on Tuesday.

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Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Director Deborah Fisher Talks About the Tri-State Pact and Gives an Update on McKinsey Report Open Records

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Director Deborah Fisher to the newsmakers line to discuss the status of the McKinsey COVID response open records request and the Tri-state Pact economic development plans.

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Tennessee House Passes Brian Kelsey Bill to Hire Police and Fire Outside County Lines

Members of the Tennessee State House of Representatives on Thursday voted to approve Senate Bill 29, which would allow first responders to live where they choose. State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) sponsored the legislation. The bill would ban residency requirements for police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services workers.

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Proposed Legislation Would Enter Tennessee into an Interstate Compact, Creating an Unelected Quasi-Governmental Entity with Broad Powers Including Eminent Domain

A bill scheduled to be heard by the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday would enter Tennessee into an interstate compact with Arkansas and Mississippi for the greater Memphis region, creating a quasi-governmental and public entity of unelected commissioners that will be vested with very broad powers, including eminent domain and condemnation of any and all rights or property.

If enacted, the legislation would create the RegionSmart Development District (District) and the RegionSmart Development (RegionSmart Development) Agency of the Greater Memphis Region.

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CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee, JC Bowman, Explains How Group Differs from Teachers Unions; Says Achievement School Districts Failed

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed JC Bowman, CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee in studio to dicuss who they are and the the failed concept of Achievement School Districts.

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University of Memphis Announces New Initiative to Push Social Justice Principles on Students

University of Memphis officials have offered a $3,000 stipend to professors to redesign existing courses to promote the tenets of social justice. This, as part of the university’s Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative.

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Memphis Sets New Homicide Record

Memphis set a new record for homicides in a single year this week, topping last year’s record number of homicides as violent crime spikes nationwide. 

“On Thursday, Memphis police reported 333 homicides, meaning the city has officially passed the grim record set in 2020 of 332 homicides. Of those 333 homicides occurring this year — 292 are classified as murders,” Commercial Appeal said. “The remainder of the deaths fall into categories such as justified homicides or instances of negligent manslaughter.”

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Memphis Police Report Four Christmas and Christmas Eve Homicides

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) reported that the city had a violent Christmas Eve and a violent Christmas day, including four homicides. MPD officials tweeted about one shooting homicide that occurred at 2:26 a.m. Saturday at the 1000 block of Haynes Street. Authorities transported the shooting victim to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where staff pronounced him deceased. MPD officials said they had no information about a suspect.

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Shelby and Hamilton Counties Use Same Bail Calculation Tool That Left-Leaning Philanthropist Designed for Waukesha, Wisconsin

Officials in two Tennessee counties, Shelby and Hamilton, use a bail calculation tool for criminal defendants that is also used in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Waukesha is where suspect Darrell Brooks Jr. faces homicide charges for using his car to kill six people at a recent holiday gathering. Prosecutors handling a previous case of physical abuse and vehicular assault involving Brooks asked a court to set bail bond for the defendant at a mere $1,000. Court officials agreed.

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Memphis Attorney Who Helped Halt School Mask Mandate Law Once Criticized Republicans on Immigration

One of the Memphis-based attorneys who last week convinced a federal judge to halt a new Tennessee law that prohibits mask mandates in schools once defended former President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. That attorney, Bryce Ashby, with the Donati Law Firm of Memphis, said in a 2013 Memphis Commercial Appeal op-ed that Republicans could trust that the Obama administration would enforce immigration law and security at the U.S.-Mexican border.

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Several City Council Districts in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee Likely to Shift

Metropolitan Nashville’s (MetroNashville) Council, the legislature for the city of Nashville and Davidson County, is currently preparing to consider a second draft of the its newly revised Council-district map.

A number of Nashville Council’s 35 districts stand to change dramatically, particularly with districts losing land mass in the city’s northeast, as population growth there has not kept pace with the city’s southern area.

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Memphis Veterans Affairs Hospital Employee Sentenced to Prison After Assaulting Police

Federal officials have sentenced a former employee of the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Memphis to 10 months in federal prison for assaulting two VA Police officers. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee identified the woman as Tiffany Lewis, 39. They said in a press release on Friday that Lewis caused a disturbance on VA property in November of last year and struck another individual.

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Man Who Pleaded Guilty to Brutal Murder in Memphis Is an Illegal Alien, ICE Says

A man who was living in Memphis and last year attacked and killed an 18-year-old woman with a machete pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder — and federal officials said Wednesday he’s an illegal alien. That man, Ledis Sanchez, 36, is from Central America, said Sarah Loicano, spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis Says Law-Abiding Citizens with Guns Don’t Deter Criminals

U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) said at a House Judiciary hearing last week that good people with firearms do not stop bad people with firearms. “Show me a case in Memphis where a good man or woman with a gun protected and stopped the use of a weapon. That canard doesn’t occur. That dog won’t hunt. It doesn’t happen. You talk about people losing their Second Amendment rights through these procedures,” Cohen said, referring to various states’ red flag laws.

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Memphis Has Violent Halloween Weekend

Memphis had a violent Halloween weekend, including three homicides, according to the Memphis Police Department (MPD).

Around 10 a.m. Sunday, MPD officers responded to a shooting at the 400 block of Laclede Avenue, where they found two male shooting victims dead inside of a vehicle. MPD officers tweeted that they have not identified any suspects in the killings.

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U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis Asks Joe Biden to Review Gas Pipeline Permits Nationwide

U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) this week said he wants more federal oversight of the oil industry and asked that U.S. President Joe Biden review the use of gas pipeline permits nationwide. Cohen announced the news via email to his constituents this week. He said Memphis residents who recently stopped the construction of the Byhalia Pipeline through southwest Memphis have forced people to think more about environmental justice issues.

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