The brutal 2011 murder of Jayna Murray shocked the community of Bethesda, Maryland and gained national media attention. Her co-worker, Brittany Norwood, planned and carried out the vicious attack after Murray caught her stealing. The case became known as the infamous “Lululemon Murder.”
Background on Brittany Norwood
Brittany Norwood, one of the main figures in this tragic case, was one of nine children raised by a father who owned an upholstery business. She was a skilled soccer player recruited in high school to play defender at Stony Brook University on scholarship.
However, Norwood had an ongoing problem with stealing and compulsive lying. She was eventually expelled from Stony Brook after being accused of theft by teammates, roommates, and classmates. A former close friend and teammate stated:
“She was my best friend in college. We had a falling out because the girl was like a klepto. She stole money and a Versace shirt from me. She also could be so sweet, so funny. Amazing soccer player. Stealing was her only vice.”
After losing her scholarship, Norwood moved to Washington D.C. to live with her sister. She built a successful career in hospitality at a luxury hotel, quickly working her way up to managing VIP guests.
But Norwood dreamed of becoming a personal trainer. That athletic ambition led her to apply for a job at the trendy athleticwear store Lululemon.
Inside the Bethesda Lululemon Store
Lululemon Athletica is a popular athletic apparel company founded in 1998. By 2011, its brand was skyrocketing in popularity across North America.
Jayna Murray worked at their store in the upscale Bethesda Row shopping center in Bethesda, Maryland. She saw the job as a way to network and meet active, health-conscious people while pursuing her graduate degree.
Coworkers said there were never any issues between Jayna and Brittany Norwood initially. But tensions secretly grew when managers suspected Norwood had begun stealing merchandise from the store. Without concrete proof, however, they couldn’t fire her.
The Night of the Murder
On March 11, 2011, Jayna Murray and Brittany Norwood were both closing up the Bethesda Lululemon location. Their shift ended at 9:45pm. Before leaving, Jayna performed routine bag checks on all closing employees to ensure no merchandise was being stolen, as per company policy.
That’s when the trouble began. Jayna found a pair of $98 yoga pants stolen by Norwood stashed in her bag. Witnesses state she did directly confront Norwood about this discovery. Already under suspicion for previous thefts, this likely triggered Norwood’s violent reaction.
“According to witness statements, before she left, Jayna performed a bag check—and found stolen yoga pants in Brittany’s bag, which was consistent with her history of stealing…Jayna knew that Brittany, a new employee, had stolen from the store.”
Just six minutes after leaving, Jayna called the store manager to report finding the pilfered leggings in Norwood’s bag.
Meanwhile, Norwood called the store’s other closing employee to get Jayna’s phone number, then immediately called Jayna with an urgent request…
The Pre-Meditated Plan to Lure Jayna Back
Norwood told Jayna she had left her wallet at the store and pleaded with her to come back and unlock the doors briefly so she could retrieve it. According to prosecutors, this was a calculated, pre-meditated ruse staged by Norwood to lure Jayna back alone:
“Premeditation: Brittany called another Lululemon sales associate and claimed that she left her wallet back at the store…She then called Jayna and asked her to come back to the store to let her in so she could get her wallet. According to prosecutors, this was a premeditated ruse to lure her back to the store.”
At 10:05PM the two women re-entered the empty store together. Moments later, a deadly rampage would begin inside.
A Shockingly Brutal Attack Unfolds
According to prosecutors, once Jayna Murray unlocked the store doors, Brittany Norwood unleashed a vicious 20-minute attack upon her. Norwood used makeshift weapons procured from store supplies, including:
- A hammer
- Box cutters
- Merchandise pegs
“Shockingly, police found eight different murder weapons that Brittany used to kill Jayna.”
Coworkers next door at the Apple store claimed they heard the violent assault unfolding. One named Jana Svrzo described hearing thuds and a woman’s screams, including:
“God help me, please help me.”
But the chaotic noises were dismissed as just a heated argument. No one called the police. Meanwhile, Jayna sustained over 300 injuries in the torture-like assault. She suffered severe head trauma and blows to her body that broke bones and lacerated organs.
Staging an Elaborate Fake Crime Scene
After her brutal 20-minute assault on Jayna using makeshift weapons from the store, Brittany Norwood needed a cover story. Meticulously cleaning herself up, she proceeded to stage an elaborately fake crime scene over the next 90 minutes inside the locked Lululemon store.
- She dragged Jayna’s lifeless, blood-soaked body to the back
- Disheveled merchandise and cash registers to mimic a botched robbery
- Inflicted minor wounds on herself with a knife
- Changed into men’s size 14 shoes from the store displays
- Dippe the oversized shoes in blood to create fake shoeprints
- Bound her own wrists and ankles tightly with zip ties
- Waited inside the bathroom overnight beside Jayna’s corpse
The clear motive? Silence the only witness to her theft while framing fictional armed robbers for the crime scene she created.
The Manager Discovers a House of Horrors
The next morning on March 12th, Lululemon manager Rachel Oertli arrived just before 8 am to open up the store for the day. Finding the front doors mysteriously unlocked, she entered cautiously only to discover a gruesome scene of carnage inside the clothing shop.
Racing outside in shock, she urgently called 911 multiple times as the situation unfolded. First responders found Jayna Murray’s mutilated body soaked in blood at the back of the store. Brittany Norwood was still tied up in the bathroom, pretending to be a barely breathing victim herself.
Spinning Graphic Tales to Police From Her Hospital Bed
When questioned initially in the hospital, Norwood spun elaborate tales about two racist, rapist killers who attacked them. Her performances were Oscar-worthy…but doubts emerged quickly.
“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?” said the questioning detective.
As Norwood’s dramatic descriptions grew more extreme, inconsistencies, contradictions, and physical evidence began unravelling her fables. Just one week after the murder, she was arrested for Jayna’s slaying.
An Avalanche of Evidence Leads to Murder Conviction
- Norwood’s blood was found inside Jayna’s car – which she denied entering
- Phone records of her luring call to Jayna
- Apple store security footage disputing her timeline
- The 8 weapons matching Jayna’s 300+ wounds
- Evidence of elaborately faked crime scene
- Shoe prints matching her own shoes
- Injuries on herself too minor for her graphic stories
The avalanche of damning evidence shocked jurors at her trial. After only a 21-minute deliberation, they convicted Norwood of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life without parole.
Norwood Loses All Appeals by 2015
Norwood fought her conviction, appealing under a Maryland technicality regarding Miranda rights timing. But higher courts upheld her conviction, stating:
“The evidence of Norwood’s guilt was overwhelming,” the court bluntly ruled. By 2015, all appeals had failed. The legal saga appeared closed.
Where is Brittany Norwood Now in 2023?
There is scarce information online about Brittany Norwood’s current status in prison as of 2023. News coverage seems to have halted after she exhausted her legal appeals around 2015.
Presumably, Brittany Norwood is still carrying out her life sentence inside the walls of the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women located in Jessup, Maryland. She remains incarcerated as prisoner #3766566, with no further updates available.
While justice was served for her vicious murder driven by a petty theft, the community may never fully comprehend the motives behind such a seemingly unwarranted eruption of horrific violence between two retail coworkers.
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