Penny Boudreau: Penny was having a problem with her boisterous pre-teen daughter. Her solution was simple. Obey me or die.
Angela Murray: A high class hooker and an elderly Holocaust survivor are the key players in this squalid tale of lust and greed and murder.
Robin O’Neill: A perpetually irritable divorcee softens her stance when love enters her life. Now that love is gone and her belligerent attitude is back…with a vengeance.
Ineta Dzinguviene: Ineta’s husband had made it clear that he did not want another child. That put the devoted mother of three in a spot. She was pregnant.
Brookey Lee West: A foul stench seeped out from the storage unit, causing the manager to call the cops. What they found inside was beyond horrific.
Michelle Burgess: First she seduced her husband’s boss. Then she set her sights on becoming his wife. Their respective spouses were in the way. Michelle had a plan for that.
Jennifer Hyatte: Prison nurse Jennifer has fallen for one of the inmates. She has a plan to bust him out. There may be shooting involved.
Deadly Women Volume 12
On the morning of Saturday, March 12, 2011, employees of the Lululemon Yoga Store, in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, arrived to begin their day’s work. Saturdays are typically busy for retail workers but this one would be unlike any that the Lululemon sales staff had experienced before. As they entered the store, they noticed that the place was in disarray, with merchandise scattered hither and fro. Then they saw the bloody footprints and then, in a rear corridor, a truly horrific sight. The store manager, 30-year-old Jayna Murray, lay on the floor, her body drenched in blood that was also spattered on every surface – the walls, the floor, even the ceiling. One of the employees immediately reached for her phone and dialed 911. The other checked the rest of the service area and found another of their colleagues, lying on the floor in a storeroom. It was Brittany Norwood, a 29-year-old sales assistant. She had been luckier than Jayna Murray. She had survived.
Police and paramedics were soon on the scene and Brittany was rushed to hospital, where she received treatment for cuts to her stomach, breasts, and face. But her injuries were nothing compared to those inflicted on Jayna Murray. The store manager had been stabbed, slashed, and beaten, suffering 330 separate wounds, inflicted with an array of weapons. She had been bludgeoned with a heavy steel stand used to support a mannequin; she’d been beaten with a hammer; she’d been slashed with a box cutter; she’d been strangled with a length of rope. Finally, she’d been stabbed with a knife, one thrust driven right through her neck from side to side, the second rammed through her skull into her brain. It was the most horrific crime scene that most of the investigators had ever attended.
But at least the police had an eyewitness, someone who could provide a description of the monster or monsters who had done this. According to Brittany, she had been the last employer, bar Jayna, to leave the store the previous evening. However, she hadn’t gone far before she realized that she’d left her wallet behind. She’d then called Jayna and asked if she could return to retrieve it. It was while Jayna was letting her in that they were ambushed by two masked men. The men forced them back into the store and then attacked them and sexually assaulted them. During the attack, Brittany had been dragged to the storeroom where her hands were bound with cable ties. One of the attackers had then cut the crotch of her jeans and had sexually assaulted her before leaving. She had remained in the storeroom, drifting in and out of consciousness, until she was found the next morning.
On the face of it, this seemed like a credible story. There had been a call from Brittany’s phone to Jayna’s at the time she said; there was evidence that Jayna had been sexually assaulted, and the police had found size 14 sneaker prints tracked through the victim’s blood all over the store. In no time at all, the police had launched a massive hunt for the perpetrators and were following up on multiple tips from the public.
But doubts soon began to emerge over the credibility of Brittany’s story. It started with a report by employees of the Apple Store that stood adjacent to Lululemon, a report of female voices raised in a furious argument. Then there was testimony from two Lululemon employees. A sales clerk reported that Jayna had phoned her shortly after closing on Friday. Jayna had asked if the clerk had sold a pair of yoga pants to Brittany that day. The woman had said that she had not. The other employee was Jayna Murray’s boss. According to her, Jayna had called her on Friday evening to report that she suspected Brittany Norwood of stealing. The two of them had resolved to sort it out in the morning. Of course, Jayna would be dead by then.
With the gaze of suspicion now turned firmly on Brittany Norwood, detectives began to look into her background. What they found was a young woman with a propensity for taking things that did not belong to her. Although she’d never been arrested for theft, Brittany had a reputation for being light-fingered. She’d even lost a college scholarship after she was caught stealing from her teammates on the soccer team. Investigators now began to wonder if Jayna had confronted Brittany over the stolen yoga pants and had been attacked as a result.
It was an interesting theory but one that had some distinct flaws to it. First, there was the savagery of the attack. Could a murder that brutal really have been committed over an accusation of shoplifting? Then there was the sexual assault, certain in Jayna’s case, inconclusive in the case of Brittany. Finally, there were the bloody footprints, evidence that there had been someone else in the store on the night of the murder?
Or had there?
In the aftermath of the murder, the police had asked Lululemon staff the carry out a stock take, to determine if anything had been taken. Only one item was missing – a pair of men’s, size14 sneakers. A fresh search was now conducted and the shoes were found hidden in the storeroom. They were sent to the lab for DNA testing, which returned the result that investigators had expected. Brittany Norwood’s DNA was found inside the sneakers. There was only one way it could have gotten there.
The police now believed that they had a pretty good idea of what had happened inside Lululemon on that fateful evening. It was company policy for the manager to search all employees’ bags when they left the store. Jayna must have checked Brittany’s bag and found the pair of yoga pants. Caught with the item in her possession, Brittany claimed that she’d bought the pants, even naming the sales assistant who had recorded the transaction. Jayna then allowed her to leave but, immediately thereafter, she called the clerk to confirm the story. After being told that Brittany had lied about purchasing the yoga pants, Jayna called her boss to report that she suspected Brittany of stealing.
By now, Brittany was on her way home. But she must have known that the game was up. She probably realized that she would be fired in the morning and may have feared that the theft would be reported to the police. This is why she called Jayna back, claiming that she had left her wallet behind. Her real intention was to silence the woman who could report the theft. She could not have known that Jayna had already reported her indiscretion.
Brittany Norwood was arrested on March 18, 2011, and charged with first-degree murder. Under questioning, she almost immediately admitted to the crime, although she claimed that it had happened on the spur of the moment and denied premeditation. This was the story that she would carry with her into the trial, an attempt, no doubt, to secure a lighter sentence.
But the evidence, in this case, was as overwhelming as it was horrific. Medical evidence indicated that Jayna Murray had been conscious throughout the entirety of the attack. She had felt every blow, experienced every moment of terror. During that time, Norwood had broken off several times to look for a new weapon to mutilate her victim with. Jayna had tried to ward off many of the blows, suffering 122 defensive wounds to her arms and hands in the process. Norwood had also sexually assaulted her with a blunt object, possibly a hammer handle, to simulate the rape that she would later report to the police. The killing blows had been delivered with a large kitchen knife which had been driven through the victim’s throat and into her brain. Then Norwood had donned the size 14 sneakers and tracked bloody footprints through the store in a crude effort to mislead the police. Finally, she’d inflicted superficial wounds on herself and then used cable ties to bind her own hands, making it look like she too was a victim.
Modern juries typically deliberate for days, even weeks, in a first-degree murder trial. In this case, the jurors were out for less than an hour before they returned to pronounce Brittany Norwood guilty as charged. Norwood would later take the stand during the sentencing phase to plead for mercy, “not for myself but for my parents.” Unfortunately for her, Judge Robert Greenberg was not in a merciful mood.
“I have no doubt that you are a deeply troubled woman,” the judge told Norwood. “However, my sympathy for your plight does not begin to approach what I feel for the Murray family.” He then sentenced Norwood to the maximum penalty allowed under Maryland law – life in prison with no possibility of parole.