Monroe remembers Jayme Biendl
MONROE - Jayme Biendl will be remembered by hundreds of people next week when the first anniversary of the young woman’s murder will be observed Sunday, Jan. 29 in Monroe.
Biendl was murdered Jan. 29, 2011 at the Monroe Correctional Complex where she worked as a corrections officer inside the Washington State Reformatory. She was 34.
On the first anniversary of her death, several groups have organized a charity 5K run/walk, and the city plans to name Jan. 29 “Jayme Biendl Day” in her honor.
Proceeds from the First Annual Officer Jayme Biendl Memorial 5K Run/Walk will benefit Behind the Badge Foundation at her family’s request. Behind the Badge supports families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.
The run/walk starts at 9 a.m. Jan. 29 at Skykomish River Park. Participants will run through the prison grounds, loop around and head back to the park. There will be a short ceremony at noon at the prison. Later that evening, people will gather for a candlelight vigil at 9 p.m. outside the Twin Rivers Unit at the prison. At that time, a statewide moment of silence will be observed.
The run/walk is sponsored by the Monroe Police Department, the Monroe Correctional Complex, Behind the Badge Foundation, the city of Monroe, Monroe Rotary and the state Department of Corrections (DOC). To register for the run/walk, visit www.regonline.com/jaymebiendlmemorialrun or call 360-863-4582.
Also this week, Mayor Robert Zimmerman will proclaim January 29, 2012 as Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl Day, a Day of Remembrance.
The proclamation calls upon all residents of Monroe to recognize, with honor and respect, Biendl’s contribution to the community and commitment to her duty and to reflect on her ultimate sacrifice.
“Please join together in praying for her family, friends, and peers, that they shall have peace in knowing that she now rests in the protective arms of God above and that the memory of her life and service shall not be forgotten,” the mayor’s proclamation says.
Biendl was found strangled to death in the prison’s chapel.
Convicted rapist Byron Scherf has been charged in her death and could face the death penalty.
Biendl had been with the DOC since 2002 and had worked in Monroe prison’s chapel for five years.
Biendl was nominated in 2008 for Correctional Officer of the Year in recognition of her integrity and professionalism.
Questions about prison policy and officer safety surrounding her death remain to this day.
Three corrections officers were fired in October for lying about their actions that night and failing to comply with investigations into Biendl’s death.
The Herald obtained documents that show one of those fired officers admitting to not being at his post the night Biendl was killed. He was supposed to be watching inmates leave the chapel where Biendl was strangled.
The officer was told by prison director Scott Frakes that he “severely compromised an essential safeguard” for Biendl and Scherf “took full advantage of your failure,” the Herald reported.
Biendl wasn’t found until nearly two hours after she was attacked.
In addition to the three officers who lost their jobs, two others were demoted, while two more received letters of reprimand for mishandling their responsibilities that night.
The officers committed such infractions as failing to inspect certain parts of the prison, failing to stay at their assigned posts and intentionally misleading officers as they searched for Biendl and misleading investigators as they began piecing together her murder.
After a review, the DOC determined nearly every staff member followed procedures and policies, Frakes said in a press release announcing the disciplinary actions.
“However, we did find some staff members who did not take appropriate actions or intentionally misled investigators. To operate a safe facility it is absolutely critical that we hold ourselves accountable for our actions, which is why I took the action I did,” Frakes said.
By STEPHANIE KOSONEN
Published Jan. 25, 2012