Lululemon marks anniversary of Jayna Murray’s death

March 11, 2012

Kate Murray walked into Bethesda’s Lululemon Athletica yoga store Sunday morning knowing that two competing emotions were about to hit her.

This was where her sister-in-law, Jayna Murray, was brutally killed exactly one year ago, a date marked by an open house inside the store before it opened Sunday. The blood had long been cleaned up and the store renovated, but there was no escaping what had happened there: Jayna Murray was bludgeoned, slashed and stabbed more than 330 times, alive until the very end.

Still, as Kate Murray knew, the store was also a setting where Jayna Murray, a saleswoman and supervisor, let loose her fun-loving personality. Looking down at the store’s wooden floors, Kate recalled how Jayna would roller-skate over them to attract customers watching through the large windows up front.

“This is a place Jayna loved to be,” Kate Murray said. “She had a ton of fun.”

A steady stream of friends and customers made their way Sunday to the store, where floral displays remembered Jayna Murray.

Kate Murray spoke about how she and her husband — Jayna’s brother Hugh — have tried to move forward, as have other family members. But she said that it may never be possible to put it behind them.

“It’s always there,” she said. “We’ve become different people.”

Before March 12, 2011, lots of people who weren’t yoga enthusiasts had never heard of Lululemon Athletica, a chain selling high-end apparel designed for yoga and jogging. But then the story broke: Montgomery County police announced that the night before, just after two saleswomen had shut the front door to close the store for the night, two masked men slipped into the shop along Bethesda Row and attacked the women.

Many people were shocked at the randomness of the attack in the peaceful, posh setting. A week later, the story turned into something that drew an even wider, national audience: Police said it was Jayna Murray’s co-worker Brittany Norwood who had fatally attacked Murray before concocting an elaborate coverup.

Norwood was convicted of first-degree murder in November. In January, she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. This weekend marked the anniversary of Murray’s death.

Nancy Beang, 66, didn’t know Murray, doesn’t practice yoga and had never been inside the store. But she followed the case, was horrified by the details and was stunned to learn that on the night of the attack, employees at the adjacent Apple Store heard screams but didn’t call police. A few months ago, she went into the Apple Store, she said, and spoke to a worker there.

“I don’t understand why no one called 911,” Beang said.

The employee didn’t respond, she said, and, citing company policy, referred her to corporate headquarters.

On Sunday morning, Beang brought flowers to place outside the Lululemon store. That’s when she learned about the open house and went inside.

“I really think it's changed the community,” Beang said. “It’s made people more aware to call 911. Let’s pray that’s the case.”

In the store, the back hallway where Murray took her last breath appears to have been closed off. There are at least two photographs of her on a wall.

Metal poles hold up mannequin legs. Heavier pegs hold hanging merchandise. Norwood, prosecutors said, had used instruments like those to kill Murray after Murray had caught her trying to shoplift a pair of yoga pants.

In the year since, it still doesn’t make any sense to Kate Murray.

“It’s impossible to make that real,” she said. “You sort of have to tell yourself it really happened.”

Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
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