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A 28-year old woman is being held without bail after being accused of brutally killing a co-worker at a yoga apparel store in an upscale suburban Maryland community and devising a cold-blooded ruse to cover her crime.

Authorities said Brittany Norwood killed 30-year old Jayna Murray at the Lululemon Athletica shop, located along a glitzy row of retail stores in Bethesda, Md. where they both worked. Investigators said the slaying took place March 11 during a fight between the two after Norwood was accused of stealing store merchandise.

Initially, it was believed Norwood was also a victim. A co-worker entering the store the morning of March 12 found Murray dead and Norwood tied up on the floor. Norwood told police she and Murray were attacked by two masked assailants inside the store who sexually assaulted and robbed them after they had returned to the store to retrieve a wallet Norwood had left behind.

However, police said later, many of the details of the incident described by Norwood could not be corroborated and there was no evidence either woman had been sexually assaulted.

Police interviewed Norwood again on March 18 and confronted her with the inconsistencies in her story. Physical evidence and her conflicted account led authorities to arrest and charge her in Murray’s murder.

“Her cunning, and her ability to lie, is almost unparalleled,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at Monday’s bail before District Court Judge Gary Everngam.

Court documents indicate Norwood was discovered by police on the bathroom floor of the store on March 12 with her hands and feet bound and minor scratches on her chest, stomach and thighs. However, according to a police report those scratches, “had all the characteristics of being self-inflicted injuries.” Additionally, a police officer in that report wrote he believed, “Norwood posed herself in this position.”

During the bail hearing McCarthy told Judge Everngam, “The nature of this crime is shocking in terms of the level of violence,” he said. “The majority of the blows were directed at her head. Her skull was crushed during the attack.”

Court documents describe a heinous murder scene in which Murray was believed to have been bludgeoned for up to 20 minutes. So many blows were delivered to the same spots on the victim’s body it was impossible to determine the exact number of wounds.

According to The Washington Post, McCarthy said there were wounds from one side of Murray’s neck to the other severing her spinal cord.

During the hearing McCarthy accused Norwood of staging the murder scene, planting evidence, and methodically concocting the story she told police.

Authorities said on March 11, Murray checked Norwood’s bag and found merchandise that appeared to be stolen from the store and the two left the store about 9:45 p.m. During the hearing McCarthy said Murray called a store manager and informed them about the stolen merchandise.

About 10 p.m. Norwood called Murray and told her she left her wallet at the store and she needed to be let in.

According to police, the two re-entered the store at 10:05 p.m. and allegedly workers at a nearby Apple store allegedly heard two women yelling at each other around 10:30 p.m.

McCarthy said Norwood sat inside the victim’s car after she killed her for about 90 minutes, presumably cobbling together the fabricated story she told police. Investigators said a set of bloody footprints were tracked throughout the store using a pair of size 14 shoes. They allege …..

they also discovered a second set of footprints made with shoes believed to be Norwood’s.

Norwood appeared during the hearing via video feed at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville, Md. She was represented by a court appointed attorney. According to The Bethesda Patch, Norwood’s address is listed as Florida Avenue in Northwest Washington, D.C.

The crime rattled the affluent downtown Bethesda community, which has experienced very little violent crime over the years.

The first-degree murder charge against Norwood appears to be a precipitous fall for the young woman who was a college soccer star at Stony Brook University in New York from 2001 to 2003.

Her play as a defender during her sophomore year at Stony Brook in 2002 earned her second-team All-Northeast Region honors according to the university’s athletic department website. And she helped her team qualify for the America East playoffs in 2002, leading a defense, which allowed only four goals in the final seven games of that season. She was also named to the 2002 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Northeast Regional Team.

Originally from Washington State, Norwood also starred in soccer at Decatur High School in Federal Way, Wash. and was named to the Seattle Times All-League team as a defender in 1998 and 1999. She graduated from the high school in 2000.

No trial date has been set for Norwood.

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