Lululemon Athletica was founded in 1998 in Vancouver, Canada, and sells leggings and other athletic apparel that are now staples in many closets around the world. The brand’s popularity had skyrocketed by the early 2010s. However, the company made headlines in March 2011 for a different reason — murder.
Jayna Murray, a Lululemon employee in Bethesda, Maryland, was murdered by coworker Brittany Norwood.
Norwood plotted and carried out the heinous Lululemon murder after Murray caught her stealing a pair of leggings. She then told police an elaborate lie, claiming that two masked men had entered the store and raped both women before murdering Murray and tying Norwood up.
However, police were skeptical of Norwood’s story from the start. The evidence at the bloody scene suggested an inside job.
Brittany Norwood Lured Jayna Murray Back Into The Store To Kill Her
Jayna Troxel Murray, a 30-year-old Johns Hopkins University graduate student, accepted a job at Lululemon Athletica so she could meet other active people and attend seminars that would help her pursue a Master of Business Administration degree.
She met Brittany Norwood, 29, while working at the store, and coworkers said the two women never had any problems.
Murray and Norwood were both working the closing shift at the Lululemon in the upscale Bethesda Row shopping center on March 11, 2011. According to the Baltimore Sun, the two women checked each other’s bags at the end of the night, as is standard procedure at the store. Murray discovered a pair of stolen leggings among Norwood’s possessions.
They left the store at 9:45 p.m., and Murray called a store manager six minutes later to inform her about the leggings. Soon after, Norwood called Murray and told her she’d left her wallet in the store and needed to return inside.
At 10:05 p.m., the pair re-entered the store. Moments later, employees at a neighboring Apple store heard a commotion.
WJLA reports that Apple employee Jana Svrzo heard a woman say, “Don’t do this. Please contact me. “What exactly is going on?” Then ten minutes of shouting and grunting. Later, the same voice said, “God help me, please help me.” Apple employees did not notify authorities because they believed it was “just drama.”
When manager Rachel Oertli walked into Lululemon the next morning, she discovered a gruesome scene. She dialed 911 and informed the operator, “There are two people in the back of my store.” One person appears to be dead, while the other appears to be breathing.”
When officers arrived, they found Jayna Murray face-down in a pool of her own blood and Brittany Norwood bound with zip ties in the store’s bathroom. After releasing the visibly shaken Norwood, investigators listened to her strange account of what happened the night before.
A Twisted Tale About The Lululemon Murder
When Norwood and Murray entered the store to retrieve her wallet, two masked men slipped in behind them, according to Norwood. According to the Washington Post, the men raped both women before killing Murray and tying Norwood up while calling her racial slurs, letting her live because she was more fun to have sex with.
Norwood was initially treated as a victim in the Lululemon murder case by police. They launched a manhunt for the perpetrators, asking local stores if any customers had recently purchased ski masks, and even followed a man who matched Norwood’s description of the killers.
Investigators, on the other hand, quickly became suspicious. “It’s just this little voice in the back of my head,” Detective Dimitry Ruvin, who questioned Brittany Norwood several times, later said. Something isn’t right. Brittany’s description of these two guys — they’re racist, rapists, robbers, murderers — it’s like the worst human being you could possibly describe, right?”
Police noticed inconsistencies in Norwood’s story every time they spoke with her. She claimed she had never been in Murray’s car, but police discovered her blood on the door handle, gear shift, and steering wheel. On March 18, 2011, Norwood was arrested for Murray’s murder, and police discovered the truth about what happened on March 11, 2011.
The Truth Comes Out At Trial
At Brittany Norwood’s trial, all the gory details of what became known as the Lululemon murder were revealed.
Jayna Murray had 331 injuries on her body from at least five different weapons, according to Mary Ripple, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland. Her head and face were badly bruised and covered in cuts, and the blow that had ultimately killed her was likely a stab wound on the back of her neck that severed her spinal cord and went all the way through to her brain.
“That area of your brain is pretty critical to you being able to function,” Ripple said. “She probably wouldn’t have lived much longer after that.” She would not have been able to defend herself on her own volition.”
Murray’s injuries were so severe that her family was unable to hold her funeral in an open casket.
Brittany Norwood left the store and moved Murray’s car to a parking lot three blocks away after brutally murdering Jayna Murray with items from the store’s tool kit, including a hammer, a knife, a merchandise peg, a rope, and a box cutter.
She sat in the car for 90 minutes, trying to think of a way to cover up her crimes.
Then Norwood returned to Lululemon to carry out her plan. She staged a robbery by taking money from the cash registers, slicing open her own forehead, and cutting a gash in Murray’s pants to make it appear as if she had been sexually assaulted.
Norwood then donned a pair of size 14 men’s shoes, jumped in a puddle of Murray’s blood, and walked around the store to make it seem as if male attackers had been inside. Finally, she tied her own hands and feet with zip ties and settled into the bathroom to wait for morning.
During the investigation, it was also discovered that Brittany Norwood had a habit of stealing and lying. She had previously left a hair salon without paying for services after claiming that her wallet had been stolen from her bag.
“She was my best friend in college,” Norwood’s former soccer teammate Leanna Yust said. We had a squabble because the girl was a thief.” Norwood, according to Yust, stole money and clothing from her.
According to reports, Norwood’s managers at Lululemon suspected her of shoplifting, but they couldn’t fire her without direct evidence. Murray finally caught her in the act, and she paid with her life.
Norwood’s defense team did not deny killing Jayna Murray during the six-day trial for the Lululemon murder in January 2012. They did, however, claim that the murder was not planned. They successfully argued that the information about the stolen leggings was hearsay and thus irrelevant to the trial, so Murray’s attorneys were unable to inform the jurors about the true motive for the killing.
“That day, nothing was going on between Jayna Murray and Brittany Norwood,” defense attorney Douglas Wood said. The lack of a motive indicates that it was not planned. That is not a motive crime. That is a passion crime.”
The jury, however, did not fall for the defense’s ruse. “I asked who thought it was first-degree,” one juror said, “and everybody’s hand just went up.”
Brittany Norwood was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. She was incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women.
According to Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, “her cunning and ability to lie is almost unparalleled.” Though Norwood will most likely spend the rest of her life behind bars, those involved in the case will never forget the brutality of the Lululemon murder.