The past week has been a roller coaster of emotions. First, the way I heard about ‘a murder in Bethesda’ was rather coincidental. I was on my way to pick up a friend, we planned to have lunch in Bethesda. I had one stop to make at the tennis center before I picked her up. While driving down I-270, a radio announcer on WTOP gave a tease about the murder in Bethesda. I hoped to catch the story before I arrived at my destination. Just as I was pulling into the Cabin John Tennis Center parking lot, I heard the announcer say, the victim was 30-yr old Jayna Murray. I couldn’t believe my ears.
In a daze, I drove into an empty spot and put the car in park. My brain was trying to reconcile what I’d heard. My mind was already crowded with thoughts and images of the disaster in Japan. And now it began to swirl with thoughts like “Maybe there is more than one Jayna Murray in the US – could there be two in this area?” I needed more details to confirm this reality and they came all too quickly as the announcer mentioned Lululemon. Then, I knew … it was our Jayna.
That’s my friend Jayna … the one I saw at Lululemon on January 30, 2011 full of life, bubbly as always. My friend Angelica and I stopped by the store while strolling around Bethesda after lunch back on that day in late January. It was great to see Jayna, I had not seen her in a while. We both squealed and hugged each other … I introduced Jayna to Angelica. I had met both of them in grad school at Johns Hopkins University. We were all Communications majors.
On that day back in January, Jayna told me she was procrastinating on Thesis … she couldn’t explain why, she just wasn’t pushed to get it done. She was contemplating a move to Seattle though and she was so, so, so happy! She loved working at Lululemon and her fellow employees seemed to enjoy her company as they joined in our conversation, as well. It was a very fun exchange. I found out that Jayna and I both frequented the same yoga studio Village Yoga in Potomac! Yet, we had never run into each other there. What a small world. We talked about meeting up for a yoga class. That was the last time I saw Jayna.
I sat in my car stunned as the announcer kept reading other news items…I didn’t hear him, I was fumbling with my phone to call my friend Cecy. Jayna, Cecy and I took the same class at Johns Hopkins Univ back in Fall semester 2008. A few weekends before, Cecy and I had High Tea in Ellicott City. I remember having a nice conversation about Jayna that day. Cecy answered and I unfortunately had to be the one to tell her of Jayna’s death.
Cecy was in shock, we couldn’t believe it. Jayna and Cecy had worked on lots of class projects together. In fact, Jayna was Cecy’s first friend when Cecy arrived in DC for grad school. I felt compelled to verify the facts, so looked up the WTOP story on my iPhone. And there it was, in writing … Jayna was dead. Cecy and I promised to call each other to make sure we were doing OK. This was an awful shock. I called the friend I was supposed to meet for lunch and cancelled.
It was deeply unsettling, as the details of the murder started to unfold. At first, we heard that a co-worker was sexually assaulted and found in the store tied up near Jayna. That was creepy. Why would the two assailants leave one alive? Maybe they thought the co-worker was also dead. Apparently, one of the workers called the other to get back in the store after they had closed the shop and left for the night. That didn’t make sense. Since Jayna was the manager of Lululemon, I assumed the co-worker called her. That sounded like a set up. The facts of the case were strange and disturbing.
Then, by Wednesday, we learned that Jayna had also been sexually assaulted. That just added to the pain. I hated hearing that and cried for what must have been excruciating pain inflicted on my friend before her life tragically ended. But, I wanted to know more. And details were not forthcoming. Until Friday afternoon when the police announced that they had arrested the co-worker for the murder of Jayna. What? The co-worker killed her? Unbelievable. But, the crime scene was terribly bloody – ‘horrific’ is what the news reports said. Apparently, the police were shocked at the ‘catastrophic’ injuries Jayna had sustained. Again, very hard words to hear. A press conference would be held at 7 pm. I already had plans to attend a candlelight vigil for Jayna at 8 pm in Bethesda.
A friend of mine came with me to Bethesda for dinner prior to the vigil. Because of the new potential danger of hanging out in Bethesda, we drove together. As we cruised through the beautiful streets of Bethesda, we discussed the fact that the female co-worker did this to Jayna. We came up with motives. And our heads spun as we thought of how a woman could be so cruel to another. There had to be an accomplice.
We began to learn the story from the press conference as we waited for the vigil to start. We attended the candlelight vigil for Jayna and everybody was in disbelief having just heard the news about the arrest of the co-worker. How awful. Thankfully, I can’t understand that kind of rage. Although, I somehow feel safer in my community – am I really? I want to know more, but will we ever know what really happened since half of the equation was buried over the weekend? So, so sad. It just doesn’t add up.
I miss my friend and I feel pity for the killer – not only did she allegedly kill my friend, but she basically killed herself…her life is over, she will always have a record hanging over her head. It’s senseless in so many ways. If she really committed this crime, it’s a relief to know she’s behind bars. The investigation is still active, so hopefully, the police will come up with more information to put my mind at ease. I’d like to know the motive. Sadly, part of the equation will never be able to give us answers (Jayna) and the remaining element is incapable of telling the truth. Ugh! My mom, Kay Nelson, said it best: “Sharp police, detective work. Still a sad ending, two lives forever lost in very different ways.”