An employee at an upscale Maryland yoga clothing shop is accused of killing a co-worker who found suspected stolen merchandise in her bag, then trying to conceal the crime by tying herself up and blaming the attack on two masked men.
Brittany Norwood was ordered held without bond Monday on a charge of first-degree murder after Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy described the slaying.
McCarthy said Norwood, 28, spun an elaborate ruse to convince authorities that she and the dead woman, Jayna Murray, had been attacked inside the Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda where they worked.
"Her cunning and her ability to lie is almost unparalleled," he said.
When Norwood was found the morning of March 12 inside the shop, she told police that she and Murray, 30, had been sexually assaulted by two masked men. Norwood had minor scratches and other wounds. Her hands and feet were bound.
Police initially treated Norwood as a rape victim, offering rewards for information leading to arrests and even doing surveillance on a person of interest. But detectives concluded that neither woman had been sexually assaulted and that Norwood had staged the scene.
McCarthy offered new details about what happened before Murray died, saying she had been asked by a store manager to check Norwood's bag for stolen merchandise after Murray called the manager to say she believed Norwood had been stealing.
That night, after the store had closed, Norwood told Murray she needed to get back into the store because she had left her wallet. When the two returned, they argued over the suspected theft, McCarthy said.
Norwood picked up some sort of weapon and beat Murray for as long as 20 minutes throughout the shop, McCarthy said. He said Murray suffered a severed spinal cord and blows "too numerous to count."