Woman slain in Bethesda Lululemon store remembered as ‘a fighter’

March 13, 2011

She was on her way to earning an MBA from Johns Hopkins’s Carey Business School. She’d spent years in international marketing. For her 30th birthday, she went bungee jumping.

But Jayna Murray’s life ended in the most brutal of ways Friday night, when she was slain after two masked men entered the Bethesda yoga clothing store where she worked.

“If you know Jayna, she’s a fighter. She would not go down without fighting,” her college roommate, Ivy Huang, said Sunday.

Huang spoke of Murray outside the Lululemon Athletica store in the Bethesda Row area, where she went to honor her friend. Flowers had been placed at the foot of the door.

“That was a woman who taught me not to be afraid of anything,” Huang said. “She was someone who really embraced living and wanted to share that with the rest of the world.” Police released few details of their investigation Sunday, but it appeared the crime could be difficult to solve.

There was no surveillance video in the store at the time of the attack, a police spokesman said.

Detectives fanned out to businesses near the store, looking for surveillance video or people who might have seen something. The detectives received tips but no eyewitness accounts, said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman.

Much of what officers know about the case comes from another store worker, also female, who survived the attack. She was sexually assaulted and tied up, found in the back of the store Saturday morning.

“We only have one eyewitness, and she’s been through a lot,” said Starks of the 27-year-old.

The survivor continued to improve Sunday at a hospital, Starks said, and was expected to be released soon.

About 9 p.m. Friday, the two women closed the store, locked it and left. One realized she forgot something and called her colleague, and they met at the store to return inside, police said. Detectives think the two men then entered the store, which was unlocked.

Detectives and forensic technicians were able to collect clues from inside the store. “We do have evidence, and we’re going to follow the evidence where it takes us,” Starks said.

Police announced that a real estate company is offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps solve the case. Police haven’t said how Murray was killed.

She grew up in Richmond, Tex., said a close childhood friend, Heather Barron.

Murray learned to be a skilled dancer - ballet, tap, and jazz - and played volleyball. “She has the best laugh and I will never forget it,” Barron said via email Sunday night. “I just don’t know how or why anyone would do this to her.”

Murray received her bachelor’s degree from George Washington University. She also studied international business and marketing in Madrid, according to a resume posted on her online LinkedIn profile.

According to the page, Murray had worked for Halliburton as a marketing specialist in the oil and energy fields and received her first master’s degree in communications, public and media relations from Johns Hopkins in 2009.

“She was only getting started,” Huang said.

Outside academics and work, Murray enjoyed hiking and running with friends. “You gotta live life,” she would say, Huang recalled.

A vivid example of this lives on the Internet.

“Wondering what I did for my 30th Birthday?” she posted on Twitter on Dec. 7. “Well, here ya go!”

She linked to a video of her bungee jumping — sporting a calm but nervous smile that now sparks heartbreak among those who knew her.

“She just didn’t have a bad edge to her,” said another friend, Mary Beall Adler.

Staff writer Ruben Castaneda contributed to this report.

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