Larry is a true crime fan and has several years of experience reporting on true crime cases and hosts a true-crime podcast.
Setting The Scene
This horrific crime begins on March 12, 2011 in the Washington D.C. suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. The manager of the Lululemon store arrived a little before 8 a.m. that morning to open the shop. Bethesda Row, which is where the store is located, is a super nice and clean shopping street with stores lining both sides of the street. There are lights hanging from building to building. It's a very fun atmosphere.
The Crime Scene
Rachel the manager arrives that morning, pulling out the keys to unlock the door, but notices the door is already unlocked. This was odd, but Rachel just assumed that someone had already come in earlier, or perhaps someone had just forgotten to lock up.
Rachel swings the door open and steps inside the Lululemon store only to stop in her tracks. The store lights already on, and from what she can see, the place looks to be almost ransacked. Decor and clothing are thrown all over the ground, cabinets are still open.
Rachel just stares at the scene in front of her, confused. Had they been robbed? Rachel digs for her phone while cautiously calling out for anyone. Maybe it was a misunderstanding and another employee was already there. That is when she heard the moaning coming from somewhere in the back of the store.
Rachel dashed back out of the store and onto the street calling 9-1-1 to report it. While out there, she notices another person who was waiting outside of the neighboring Apple store for it to open. She explains to the man (Ryan) what had just happened in there and asks if he will go back in there with her, to make sure nobody's hurt, because there was a moaning sound.
The man had no idea what was going on, but he agreed to help and goes with Rachel back into the store. Ryan pushes his way through the distressed storefront, while Rachel waits. It's only a minute before Ryan yells from the back of the store to call police.
Montgomery County Police Respond
Rachel called 9-1-1, saying "I think someone is dead." Ryan had found a body lying face down. He tells Rachel there is another person tied up in the bathroom who is barely breathing, and he thinks she was sexually assaulted. Rachel again calls 9-1-1 to report what they had found in the Lululemon.
Montgomery County Police respond to the 9-1-1 calls and arrive at the Lululemon store and discover the store in disarray. The dead body in the back belonged to a 30-year-old woman named Jayna Murray. Jayna was an actual employee of the Lululemon store who had worked the closing shift the night before.
They also discovered 28-year-old Brittany Norwood, with hands and feet zip-tied and shaken in the bathroom. She had cuts all over her chest, her legs, her arms, and even her face. The store is covered in blood, in a huge disarray. They discover two sets of bloody shoe prints, one big and one small, all throughout the store.
Montgomery responders rushed Brittany to the hospital, where once stable, would later recount what had happened that night. Brittany explained to police that she and Jayna were closing the store together that night, March 11th.
Once they left, she realized that she forgot her wallet. She hurried and got a hold of Jayna and asked her to come back and unlock this store for her, so she could go in and grab it. Brittany was a newer employee and Jayna was the higher-up employee, which is why she was the one with the keys.
Brittany Tells a Story About the Attackers
While they were inside the unlocked store, Brittany described two masked men barging in and attacking both her and Jayna. Once the two masked intruders had control of the girls, they tied them up and then began sexually assaulting each girl. Brittany explained how Jayna began fighting back and resisting the assault and that's when she says the man began beating her profusely.
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She says she watched as they eventually stabbed her friend and co-worker to death. Brittany realized that at this point she was going to do as they asked, in hopes of not meeting the same fate as her friend. She was beaten and cut up with a knife, but nothing fatal enough to kill her. She was left tied up in the bathroom with her hands above her head.
Police demanded the hospital perform a sexual assault examination in hopes of retrieving DNA. They leave Brittany at the hospital, so they can begin investigating.
The Investigation Begins
Police wanted to discover what awful vile people had done this. It was classified as a robbery turned homicide, and attempted murder. Brittany Norwood was one of nine children. Her father actually owned an upholstery business. Although they didn't have much, hard work and education were taught heavily in the Norwood family home.
By high school Brittany was demonstrating good athletic skills and was actually recruited to play at Stony Brook University on scholarship as a defender on the women's soccer team. She started college in 2000 and played until 2003, when suddenly she was accused of stealing by not just her teammates, but classmates and even roommates.
She definitely had a little problem with this, but it was almost a joke though. Everyone was saying, oh that's just something she does. A soccer teammate said Norwood was her best friend in college but had a falling out because she was like a kleptomaniac.
Norwood stole money and a designer shirt from her. She also said that Norwood was very sweet, funny, and an amazing soccer player. This was her only downfall. Brittany was thrown out of the school and lost her scholarship after all these girls came forward.
Brittany Norwood Had to Begin a New Life
After this mishap and not being able to graduate, Brittany Norwood moved to Washington, D.C. to live with her sister. There she found success working at the front desk at the William Intercontinental Hotel, where she was quickly promoted to managing VIP guests.
It was honestly a good job but Brittany still had athletic ambitions and decided that she wanted to become a personal trainer. She began applying for jobs at fitness studios near the Lululemon store.
That's how she eventually ends up working at Lululemon. So while investigating the murder the day after it happened, Montgomery County police detectives continue to track leads and tips, but there seem to be no eyewitness accounts.
Right off the bat, while all of this is happening, all the public knows is that there was an attack on two women and one was murdered and the other survived. Police released to the public that they are looking for two men, one around six feet tall and the other around five foot three inches tall, according to the surviving victim.
Murder Left a Community Shocked
There were no security cameras and no evidence of a break-in because the men had used the unlocked doors left open by the girls. The store owners offered a $125,000 reward to anyone who could help police find, apprehend and convict the two male suspects.
The murder itself unsettled the previously quiet and low-crime suburb of Bethesda. As the community held a vigil, whispers began to fill the quiet space with news that Brittany Norwood, the survivor, was just arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Jayna's death.
Police Make an Arrest
Brittany Norwood has been arrested, and it was finally revealed that there were no masked intruders, it was just Brittany and Jayna closing up the yoga store when everything turned so dark and evil.
The community still did not really know what was going on, as the police kept quiet on the details of the murder case. Those hidden details would finally be revealed during Brittany Norwood's trial seven months later.
Imagine being in this town where hardly any crime happens, and then two Lululemon workers are attacked and one is killed, then police announced they arrested the other girl for it. And then you have to wait another seven months to figure out what actually happened.
Nobody Knew Why Brittany Murdered Jayna
While waiting for the trial to actually begin, the same Lululemon store that had been boarded up and closed since the day of the murder reopened in June of the same year. Jayna's sister and parents were at the store's reopening. The store had installed a stained glass mosaic, with the word love in cursive, above the entrance to remember Jayna.
Then in April, her parents came out and told the media that they were just as confused as everyone. They claim their daughter never mentioned Brittany and didn't even know this girl. They weren't even close enough for Jayna to bring her up.
Finally, after back and forth trying to plead insanity, Brittany Norwood is charged with first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree specific intent to kill murder. Her trial started on October 26, 2011.
Brittany Norwood Trial Begins
The details that emerge during the trial shocked everybody. Jayna Murray and Brittany Norwood had been co-workers for only three weeks at the Bethesda Row location Lululemon and were working together on March 11, 2011. They closed the store and left the building that night.
According to witness statements, Jayna performed a bag check on Brittany before leaving. A bag check is a common practice used in many scenarios. They are also used on employees before they leave, just to make sure nobody is stealing products.
Jayna performed one on Brittany and found some stolen yoga pants in Brittany's bag that she didn't pay for. If you remember she has a history of stealing. She literally lost her scholarship and was kicked out of school for this.
It's unclear whether Jayna confronted Brittany about it, or if there was just an awkward silence as Jayna handed them back to Brittany. Either way, Jayna knew that this new employee was stealing a pair of yoga pants.
Brittany calls another sales associate for Lululemon and claims that she left her wallet back at the store. Because they barely know each other, Brittany didn't even have Jayna's number and needed to get it from this other employee.
She then called Jayna and asked her to come back to the store to let her in so she could get her wallet. This was a ruse to bring her back to the store and how the state said it was premeditated.
The Interrogations Begin
On March 12th, the day they were found, Detective Deanna Mackey met with Brittany at the hospital to get her statement. Everyone including the police considered Brittany a victim at this point. They just needed to get her story and help in finding a suspect.
During this interview, the story about the masked intruder comes out and Detective Mackey notes the incredible detail Brittany was using to describe the supposed attack. She claimed that she was assaulted with a clothing hanger from the store and that's why when she was found the crotch of her pants was torn.
But the hospital reported back to police that Brittany's examination revealed no evidence of a sexual assault.
On March 14th, two days later, Detective Dimitri Reuven and James Drury spoke to Brittany at her home. At this point, they still think she's a victim. So even though the hospital said there were no signs, it didn't really sway them.
Brittany cried to detectives while revealing even more details about her supposed attack. Police still considered Brittany a victim at this point. On March 16th, two days later, police again asked to meet Brittany at the station to collect her fingerprints and hair samples for elimination purposes.
Police sit her down for questioning. In the past two days, police have grown suspicious of Brittany. I even believe that they found DNA evidence against her inside Jayna's car.
Brittany Finally Starts to Talk
The next day, Brittany's family call the police and say that Brittany had confessed some more details about the attack and had been withholding the information, afraid that the suspects who were still on the loose were going to come back and harm her.
One of the details she provided was that in the middle of the attack, the suspects untied Brittany and forced her to go outside on her own and get in Jayna's car, move it and come back in. Clearly, she's now starting to realize maybe they have evidence of her in Jayna's car. The next day, the 18th, police bring her back in for more questioning. She is the one who starts the conversation about moving the car to a different parking lot.
She says the reason she didn't just get in the car and go find help was that the attackers had seen her home address on her ID and she was scared they would find her. She goes on to say she even passed a cop while moving Jayna's car and didn't do anything. She said she just parked the car and went back into the Lululemon to be attacked.
Police explain to Brittany that her story doesn't make sense. During this interview, Brittany is growing frustrated and tired and she wants to go home. So at this point police confront her with all of the evidence they had collected.
The Murder Weapon
There were eight different murder weapons used to kill Jaina. This was the evidence they found that led them to arrest Brittany just a week after. This is what they had been working on for the last six days.
It was a rampage, a bloodbath, and a brutal murder. She sustained 332 separate injuries from the attack. She had 105 defense wounds. The weapons that they found included a hammer, a wrench, box cutters and a merchandise peg. All of it was found already in the store. She was hit in the head with a metal bar from a shelving rack, shattering her skull and breaking her spine.
All of Brittany's injuries were superficial, so when she was found, police thought the story doesn't match up. Her injuries did not make sense with the attacker's style of attack on Jayna.
Half of the bloody shoe prints belonged to Britany. The shoe she was wearing and the other half came from a size 14 display shoe found inside the yoga store. This means Brittany grabbed the other shoe, dipped it in blood, and pranced around the store placing footprints where she could claim a different person came in here, left the shoe inside the store, then tied herself up.
She then bound her own feet and hands and spent all night laying in the store next to Jayna's corpse.
The Jury Speaks
During the trial, the jury was shown all of the evidence, they heard phone calls and also watched video footage of Brittany originally claiming not to know the type of car Jayna drove. Brittany knew she couldn't deny doing it, there was too much evidence, so she claimed it was all self-defense.
The jury spent less than an hour deciding that Brittany Norwood was guilty, claiming the evidence was overwhelming. She was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole. Investigators never really figured out Brittany's motive for murdering Jayna.
Killer Wants a New Trial
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.