Murder is always a needless crime. To murder someone requires a complete lack of respect for human life. And this is particularly true as it pertains to cold-blooded murders. Still, there are many ways that murderers justify their actions whether it be revenge, financial gain, possessiveness, or sexual desire. While none of these reasons rightfully justify tearing another human being’s life away from them, they all seem almost reasonable when compared to the reason for the murder of Jayna Troxel Murray on March 11, 2011. Murray was killed that evening by her coworker Brittany Norwood at a Lululemon store in Bethesda, Maryland. Murray had sustained at least 331 separate injuries from the attack.
What was the reason for such a brutal and savage attack? Murray had caught Norwood trying to steal a pair of Lululemon leggings from their place of work. This case quickly became national news due to the severity of the attack as well as its location. All across the United States, headlines spoke of the “Lululemon murder”. Many attribute the murder to the dangerous effect of consumerism, somehow shifting the blame onto Lululemon for creating desirable products. However, there was clearly more at play than a strong taste for the well-known athleisure brand. The details of this case show that Norwood is clearly a very troubled woman with some sort of underlying instability.
In this article, we’ll discuss the “Lululemon murder” case and its aftermath. This case is very disturbing and gruesome. So, if you aren’t to hear the horrifying details of this case, I’d suggest not reading on.
The Discovery of Jayna Troxel Murray
On March 12, 2011, manager Rachel Oertli of the Lululemon store at 4856 Bethesda Ave in Bethesda, Maryland (which has since closed its doors) arrived in the morning to find the store in a state of disarray. The door was unlocked, which was highly unusual, and there was merchandise littering the floor and mannequins knocked over. Immediately, she knew something was wrong.
The manager then heard the sound of a girl moaning coming from the back of the store. She walked into a back hallway to find Jayna Murray lying face-down in a pool of her own blood. She then discovered Brittany Norwood in a bathroom with zip ties around her wrists and ankles. She also had blood on her face and appeared half-conscious.
It was clear almost immediately that Murray was dead. Her head and face were covered in cuts and bruises and there was a stab wound on the back of her neck that was believed to be the blow that ended her life. An autopsy revealed that Murray sustained at least 331 separate wounds which were inflicted by at least 5 different weapons, including a knife, hammer, a box cutter, a rope, and a peg that was used to hang merchandise.
Initially, the police treated Brittany Norwood as a victim and brought her to the station to get her account of the events that had transpired the previous evening. However, the more Norwood spoke, the less sense the story made. And, when Norwood was caught changing the story and even lying about certain aspects, the spotlight turned on her as a potential suspect.
According to Norwood’s story, she had forgotten her wallet in the store after finishing her shift the night of the murder. So, she called Murray, who was closing up, to let her back in the store. Then, as she was getting her wallet, two men entered the store wearing ski masks and dark clothing. The two men then bound the young women and proceeded to sexually assault both of them repeatedly.
Norwood claimed that the two men repeatedly yelled racial slurs at her. She said they then stuck her in the bathroom while they beat and raped Murray. Norwood recalled hearing Murray screaming and crying and the men savagely beating her. She said that they beat Murray to death; however, they allowed Norwood to live because she was “more fun to have sex with.”
It didn’t take long for police officers to begin questioning this story. In the words of lead detective Dimitry Ruvin, “It’s just this little voice in the back of my head. Something’s just not right. The way Brittany’s describing these two guys — they’re racist, they’re rapists, they’re robbers, they’re murderers — it’s like the worst human being that you could possibly describe, right?” On top of that, it seemed off that Jayda Murray had suffered such a brutal beating and that Brittany Norwood had gotten away relatively unscathed.
What Really Happened
One piece of evidence that led investigators to find out that Norwood was lying was the presence of her DNA in Jayda Murray’s car, which was found at a farmer’s market three blocks away. Initially, Norwood claimed that she had never been inside Murray’s car. However, when investigators told her that they had found her DNA inside Murray’s car, she changed her story and said that she had been ordered by the robbers to move Murray’s car. It was clear that Norwood was changing her story to fit the evidence.
Plus, a forensic investigator pointed that the single stream of blood on Norwood’s forehead had dripped straight down, implying that Norwood spent most of the night in an upright position rather than lying on the ground (as she had been when police first responded to the scene). All of this evidence pointed pretty clearly to the fact that Norwood herself was involved in Murray’s murder and then had rigged the crime scene to make herself look like a victim.
In reality, on March 11, 2011, Jayda Murray had caught Brittany Norwood stealing a pair of leggings from the store as they were closing up. Murray called the store’s manager after she had left the store to tell her that Norwood had been stealing, and the manager said that she would take care of it in the morning. Norwood left the store peacefully. However, several minutes later, she called Murray and asked her to return to the store to let her back in, claiming that she had left her wallet behind.
At 10:05 p.m. (according to the alarm records), Murray opened the door for Norwood. Then, Norwood savagely attacked Murray and beat her to death, finally ending her life with that knife wound to the back of the neck.
Unsure what to do, Norwood decided to move Murray’s car several blocks away, stealing the keys out of Murray’s pocket and then driving her car to the nearby farmer’s market. She then returned to the store and tried to stage a robbery by putting on men’s shoes and walking around in pools of blood. She also tossed chairs and mops and brooms around the store. Finally, she cut her own forehead, tied her own wrists and ankles with zip ties, and sat down in the bathroom to await the morning.
At trial, the prosecution was able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Brittany Norwood had murdered Shayna Murray. While the defense tried to argue that this was a crime of passion because Norwood and Murray had not been in any previous altercations that day or any time before, Norwood was eventually convicted of first-degree murder.
During the trial, Montgomery Circuit Judge Robert Greenberg said to Brittany Norwood, “There’ll be Christmases, there’ll be telephone calls, there’ll be visits. The only visits Jayna Murray will have are those to her grave.” Norwood will likely spend the rest of her life in prison.