|Brittany Norwood Profile|
|Victim(s):||Jayna Troxel Murray|
|Motive:||Dispute over merchandise|
|Murder Location:||Bethesda Row, Maryland|
|Date(s):||March 12, 2011 (Murder)
March 18, 2011 (Arrest)
January 27, 2012 (Verdict)
|Verdict:||Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.|
|Current Location:||Maryland Correctional Institute for Women|
Brittany Norwood was a fairly unrecognizable name until March 2011, when Norwood was convicted of brutally killing her co-worker, Jayna Murray, in the back of the Lululemon Athletica they both worked at in Bethesda, MD. Norwood had initially claimed she and her co-worker had been attacked by three random men after the store closed.
Bethesda, MD is a quiet suburb solemnly known for crime. In fact, there is a 1 in 1701 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Bethesda, which made the story even more shocking.
Murray’s murder has spurred documentaries, movies, and TV shows. The bizarre circumstances and unclear motives behind the brutal attacks are still being unraveled by true crime fans, Bethesda residents, and nationwide American citizens to this day. Some even refer to it as the crime case they can’t forget.
Brittany Norwood was born on May 18, 1982 and was a part of the 2000 graduating class from Decatur High School in Federal Way, Washington. She moved to Long Island, NY to study Sociology at Stony Brook University and received praise as a remarkable soccer player playing defense through her junior year. At the time of the investigation, Norwood had no formal criminal record. She did, however, have a number of complaints from team players, classmates, and roommates claiming she was a kleptomaniac that stole money and clothes from them. By her friends, Norwood was described as, “very sweet, funny, and an amazing soccer player. Stealing was her only vice.” Norwood was eventually reported, lost her scholarship and expelled.
There were also allegations of her stalking an ex-boyfriend in 2007. A restraining order had even been filed against her by the same ex boyfriend. Norwood consistently rescheduled the hearings due to work conflicts, despite writing how serious the matter was to her. A year later, the warrant expired as her ex-boyfriend could not offer evidence of domestic violence claims.
She moved to Washington D.C./Maryland sometime that year to live with one of her four sisters. She initially started working at a hotel and was quickly promoted to manager. It didn’t last long – Brittany had strong aspirations for opening her own gym. These strong aspirations ultimately led her to put in applications to places like Lululemon Athletica.
9pm March 11, 2011: Brittany Norwood’s co-worker Jayna Murray was locking up at the usual closing time of 9pm and conducted anti theft checks as per standard Lululemon procedure. This typically involves briefly checking one another’s bags before leaving. Murray noticed store items stashed in Norwood’s bags and phoned her manager from her car who said she would respond to the situation the next morning.
10pm March 11, 2011: Murray picked up a call from Norwood explaining she had left her wallet at the store and requested her to unlock the store doors so she could get it.
What happened immediately afterward is unclear. Some theories provided by detectives that worked on the case:
Whichever way the situation escalated, detectives know for certain that the two started fighting. Loudly. So loudly that employees from the Bethesda Row Apple Store next door overheard arguing, moaning, and screaming. One saying, “Talk to me. Don’t do this. What’s going on?” followed by screams, the sounds of someone being hit or dragged, and a weak voice later saying “God help me.. Please help me.” When later questioned, they said they dismissed the situation as “drama” and went about their shift.
Morning of March 12, 2011: The manager entered the store to find knocked over mannequins, merchandise strewn across the flood, and the door unlocked. She and an outside mall customer searched the store to find Norwood semi conscious in the bathroom with zip ties binding her wrists and ankles and blood on her face. There were bloody footprints tracked through the store. Murray’s body was found face down in a pool of her blood with her neck tightly tied up.
Norwood claimed that three men had followed her and Murray into the store wearing ski masks, attacking and sexually assaulting them. Norwood and Murray were considered victims for several days until forensics determined that Murray had been savagely attacked. 331 wounds were discovered on her body from at least 5 different weapons, presumably all from within the store.
The coroner that examined the case disclosed the most disturbing and damning evidence pointing to Norwood:
Detectives also noticed that Jayna’s car had been moved to a different location. Forensic analysts also found a mix of Norwood and Murray’s DNA blood evidence inside the car. When initially questioned, Norwood explained that she was ordered to move the car by the masked men and threatened with her life if she wasn’t back within 10 minutes. Witnesses testified they had seen her park the car near a farmers market and sat inside the car for an hour and a half, likely trying to decide what to do. Brittany told authorities she had passed by a police officer but did not speak to him.
As evidence mounted against her, Norwood eventually admitted that she was responsible for the murder. Her family had a chance to ask her why she had attacked Murray, to which she responded “I don’t know.”
Nothing appeared amiss regarding Norwood’s family. She was one of nine children (4 sisters and 4 brothers) to Earl and Larkita Norwood, who were respected and even admired by the community of Kent, WA (20 miles south of Seattle). Both have been consistently described as a friendly and generous couple dedicated to raising their children the same way.
Her parents were dedicated to their children’s needs, even when their furniture upholstery and fabric business were facing hard economic times. The Norwoods never complained and consistently funded thousands of dollars a year to keep their children enrolled in traveling soccer clubs. Earl was always present for Brittany’s big games and dressed for them formally–in collared shirts, jackets, and slacks.
It’s been said she had support from her family to pursue her original dream to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. Family and friends both commented that her aggressive on the field tactics appeared to never translate off the field.
“It’s beyond belief.” – Earl Norwood told The Washington Post
For many years the motives behind Norwood’s killing have perplexed many, from true crime fans to long standing detectives. Even after over 10 years, Norwood’s brutal attacks have remained in the consciousness of nationwide and local communities such as Bethesda. Some of the long standing theories include:
The then-CEO of Lululemon Athletica, Christine Day, released a statement on March 18th–the day the Norwood investigation started–thanking law enforcement and announcing the temporary closure of three local stores in the Bethesda area through March 19th. Day reiterated this was to help protect the company’s employees and families.
Brittany Norwood’s testimony fell apart during the investigation and did not hold up in court. She was caught in several lies, including one where she initially claimed she was never in Murray’s car. Later, she changed it to being forced to move it after the three masked men threatened to kill her if she didn’t return in 20 minutes.
The trial went on for almost a year. In the end, her defense team did not try to defend Brittany’s original testimony. Instead, they sought second degree homicide charges and maintained that the killing was not premeditated.
The homicide laws in Maryland mandate that first degree or premeditated murder results in life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. However, second degree homicide has a maximum penalty of 30 years–with parole eligibility after 15 years.
On January 27, 2012, after a nearly year-long trial, Norwood was convicted of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Norwood offered a public apology in hopes of parole–however, the judge did not budge.
In 2015, she appealed her conviction through a law that guarantees circuit court cases to a single appeal by The Court of Special Appeals. Her defense team claimed that the Montgomery detectives had been questioned improperly and that she had not been read her Miranda rights when brought in for questioning. Her claims were dismissed which effectively eliminated any additional direct appeal options.
Currently, Brittany Norwood is inmate #3766566 at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup, MD.
Jayna Murry (born November 22, 1980) was born in Wichita, KS and grew up in Texas with her loving parents David and Phyliss Murray and older brother Hugh. Jayna had moved to the Washington D.C. area to complete her Bachelor’s degree at George Washington University.
When the attacks occurred, she had been living in the area for a few years. She had been working at Lululemon Athletica and continuing her education at John Hopkins University for a higher degree in Communication and Business Administration. She was in the process of writing her final thesis on Lululemon’s business model and aspired to apply to Lululemon Athletica’s corporate offices post-graduation.
Jayna was an athlete that loved hiking, dancing, and traveling. She was dearly loved and appreciated by her family and friends. She was also known to the community as an animal and nature lover that lived life to the fullest. Jayna also enjoyed volunteering for several local organizations.
Murray’s family founded the Jayna Troxel Murray Foundation posthumously. According to the Facebook page, its mission is to “[support] and [promote] the interest and passions that enriched Jayna’s life by making them available to others in hopes of similarly enriching their lives.”