It was the 11th of March 2011. A Wednesday. Thirty year old Jayna Murray was at work that night. Jayna was pursuing two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and she worked part time at the Bethesda Lululemon Athletica retail store in Maryland, United States.
Jayna was adventurous, in fact she loved nothing more than the thrilling excitement she got from bungee jumps, but yoga brought a great sense of balance and calmness to her life and her job at Lululemon was perfect for her.
That night, Jayna and her coworker, twenty seven year old Brittany Norwood, were due to finish at 9.45 pm. Jayna would lock up as she had the store keys.
An above video Jayna uploaded to Youtube on the day of her murder
A video Jayna doing a bungee jump above
The next morning, the 12th of March,manager Rachel Oertli arrived at the Lululemon store shortly before 8 am. The lights were on and the door was unlocked so Rachel thought one of the other employees had arrived before her and forgot to lock the door.
When Rachel entered the store, she immediately noticed the place was in disarray. She called out and heard somebody moaning in the back of the store so she left the store and called 911.
When Rachel was outside calling 911, she saw a man outside the Apple Store which was beside the Lululemon store. His name was Ryan Haugh. Rachel and Ryan did not know each other but she asked him to go back inside Lululemon with her. Ryan walked to the back of the store and saw a body lying face down. He told Rachel to call the police. He then saw another person. They were tied up but still alive.
When police arrived, in the hallway at the back of the store, they found Jayna’s body. In the bathroom, they found Brittany. Brittany was still alive but they observed cuts to her body, the crotch of her pants was ripped and her hands were tied over her head with a zip tie. She was taken to hospital. There were cuts on her chest, legs, arms and forehead. There was a one to two inch laceration on her right hand that ran parallel to her thumb.
When police searched the store, they found two bloody footprints. One belonged to a size 14 trainer and that trainer was found inside the store. The safes in the store were empty. It appeared that there had been a robbery. Police spoke to Brittany at the hospital later that day, the 12th of March. She told them that she was working with Jayna the night before and they locked up for the night and went their separate ways.
Brittany realized she forgot her wallet so she called and asked Jayna if she would meet her back at the store as Jayna had the keys. Jayna agreed. Two men, wearing ski masks, followed them inside the store, grabbed them and bound them. They sexually assaulted both of them but when Jayna resisted , they beat and stabbed her to death. Brittany told police that she had been raped and the men used a clothes hanger to sexually assault her.
Police spoke to Brittany again two days later when she was at home. Brittany told police that the man who attacked her told her the reason that he didn’t kill her was because she was “fun to f*ck.” She said that one of the men pushed her on to Jayna’s body. Brittany told police she was scared as the men knew her name and address and they swore at her, racially abused her and called her a dirty slut. Police asked Brittany to call down to the station on the 16th of March.
They wanted samples of her hair and her fingerprints so they could eliminate them from the crime scene. When she was at the station, she was asked if she knew what Jayna’s car looked like but she told police that she did not.
The next day, police received a call from Brittany’s brother Chris and her sister Marissa. They told police that Brittany was afraid to share some information with them. They said that the men who attacked Brittany had forced her to move Jayna’s car. Based on this new information, police arranged a meeting with Brittany.
Brittany told police that before she was sexually assaulted, the men forced her to move Jayna’s car to a parking lot. According to Brittany, she went alone but even though she saw a police officer when she was moving the car, she did not stop or seek help as she was afraid for her life. The police had heard enough. They told Brittany that they did not believe her. They said that the evidence did not corroborate her version of events and the statements she had made about that night. They believed that Brittany staged the robbery and caused her own injuries to try to cover up the fact that she brutally murdered her coworker Jayna. She was arrested and charged with first degree murder.
Brittany Norwood found guilty of first degree murder & gets life without parole
It was the Prosecution’s case that Jayna’s death was the result of a premeditated murder. Under Maryland law, premeditated murder can happen within seconds. It was their case that a brutal and prolonged attack took place that night, the night of the 11th of March , inside the store. They could not reveal the motive at the Trial due to the suppression of some statements and evidence but at earlier news briefings, they indicated that the attack happened because that day Jayna allegedly discovered that Brittany had stolen stock from the store. At the end of each shift, employees check each other’s bags. It is believed that Jayna saw stolen merch inside Brittany’s bag and reported the matter to a manager.
It was the Prosecution’s case that both Jayna and Brittany left the store that night but returned fifteen minutes later. After they left the store, Brittany contacted another employee and asked for Jayna’s number. She told her she left her wallet inside the store. Brittany then called Jayna and asked her to open the store back up. As Jayna had keys, she agreed to return to the store.
It was their case that Brittany then attacked Jayna inside the store and staged the scene to make it look like a robbery had taken place and try to make it look like both of them were attacked. But even though Brittany claimed she was raped and cut, the wounds were superficial and there was no evidence that she had been sexually assaulted. But there was plenty of evidence that Jayna had suffered a severe beating and brutal death.
They believed that the evidence showed that Brittany cracked Jayna over the head with a foot long metal bar that was part of the merchandise rack in the store and chased her through the store, repeatedly hitting her until she fell. Brittany used a hammer, wrench, knife and peg in the attack. She also tried to strangle her with rope and Jayna’s hair and blood was found on a rope that was found inside the store.
In order to prove premeditation, the Prosecution focused on how long the attack took place. It was their case that Jayna was attacked for around twenty minutes and most of her injuries were inflicted on her when she was alive.
Employees at the Bethesda Apple Store, which adjoined the Lululemon store, heard noises coming from the Lululemon store shortly after 10pm on the night of the 11th of March. They heard what sounded like thudding, dragging and grunting noises and high-pitched squealing.
It was so bad that one of the Apple Store employees discussed the matter with their security guard and the manager. The employee heard one female voice saying:
“Talk to me. Don’t do this. Talk to me. What’s going on?”
That plea was followed by screams and calls for help and the employee heard someone say:
“God help me. Please help me.”
That Apple employee left work at 11pm that night.
The Medical Examiner, Mary Ripple, who carried out Jayna’s Autopsy, gave evidence in relation to the injuries that Jayna had sustained. She told the Court that there were 331 wounds on Jayna’s body, the most injuries she had ever seen on one person. That was a conservative estimate of the number of injuries. Up to 105 of the wounds were defensive wounds. Jayna used her arms and legs to try to defend herself.
She testified that she believed that Jayna was alive for most of the attack as there was bruising and bleeding around the wounds:
“She had a pulse, she had a blood pressure, she was bleeding into the wounds—she was alive.”
Jayne’s injuries included multiple cuts, bruises, abrasions and cutting wounds. There were six blunt force wounds to her head and another blunt force wound that crushed her skull. The injuries to her skull caused bruising to the internal portion of her brain. The Medical Examiner told the Court that for this to happen a tremendous amount of force would need to be used. This type of injury is normally seen in victims who have been in a severe and lethal car crash.
The blows to Jayna’s head were too numerous to count. Her skull was fractured and spinal cord severed by a wound that extended through her neck. There were stab wounds to her shoulder, one to her lower back and two to the back of her head.
The ligature mark on her neck suggested she had been strangled with a rope. But it was a knife wound
to the back of Jayna’s neck that pierced her brain which caused her death. After an injury like this, she would have only survived for less than a minute. The Prosecution asked the Court to:
“Think about how long this took. Jayna is alive through almost all of this.This was not slow. This was not painless. This woman struggled to survive.”
The blood trail in the store indicated that Jayna had desperately tried to reach the back door to try to escape her attacker.
Jayna Murray Evidence Photo from inside the store
The Prosecution presented further evidence in relation to the murder. Jayna’s car was found parked a couple of blocks from the store and there were traces of Jayna’s blood and Brittany’s DNA found inside the car. Brittany only told police that she was forced to move Jayna’s car a day after they asked her if she ever saw Jayna’s car before. They believed she tried to provide an explanation as to why her DNA would be in the car just in case her DNA was later found inside the car.
Inside the store, only two sets of footprints were found ,one from a pair of shoes found at the scene and Brittany’s footprints. The Prosecution believed that Brittany used shoes from the store to try to stage a crime scene. She tried to make it look like there had been a robbery and that both of them were victims of an attack.
The Prosecution told the Court that it was their case that Brittany removed the cash from the store and inflicted injuries upon herself.
It was the Defense’s case that there was no premeditation. They claimed that Brittany attacked Jayna in the heat of the moment and lost control. Her Attorney told the Court that Jayna and Brittany got into a horrific fight that night at the store and Brittany used items she found inside the store as weapons. The attack was not planned.
Brittany was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert A Greenberg said to Brittany during sentencing:
“My sympathy for your plight does not begin to approach what I feel for the Murray family. No matter how long I confine you for, one thing we know is you will live. There will be telephone calls. There will be Christmases. There will be visits. The only visits Jayna Murray will get are to her grave.”