Death of prison guard Jayme Biendl

Jan 30, 2011, 4:42 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Another candle light vigil in Washington to remember an officer killed in the line of duty.

Biendl Family and co-workers from the Monroe Correctional Complex met last night at the Monroe prison to mourn the death of Jayme Lee Biendl.

Investigators say officer Biendl, an 8-year veteran of the Department of Corrections, was strangled to death by an inmate serving a life sentence. She was 34 years old.

Inmate Byron E. Scherf was reported missing during a routine count at 9:14 p.m. Saturday. He was found three minutes later in the chapel lobby and told officers he had planned to escape. Biendl’s body was found about an hour later.

“He is our primary suspect,” Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis told the Associated Press. Biendl was fully clothed and there was no evidence of a sexual assault.

The suspect is serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted of first-degree rape and kidnapping in 1997. He was being housed in a medium-security unit at the Monroe complex, which has five units with varying security levels.

Biendl was represented by Teamsters 117. A Teamsters spokeswoman says the guard told her union shop steward and prison supervisors that she was concerned about being the sole guard working in the chapel.

The Union has been speaking out for months against the budget cuts that have reduced the size of the staff and programming at prison facilities. They say this tragic and unnecessary death is proof that correctional employees are at risk.

Governor Chris Gregoire has ordered a “thorough review” of the death. And she says in a statement, “It’s with a heavy heart I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the officer. I am truly saddened by her senseless murder.”

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Death of prison guard Jayme Biendl