Female Guard Murdered at Monroe Prison

Union spokeswoman says guard had complained about working in prison's chapel alone.

A female guard killed by an inmate at Monroe Correctional Complex Saturday night has been identified as 34-year-old Officer Jayme Biendl.

Teamsters 117 spokeswoman Tracey Thompson said she was told that Biendl had been strangled in the prison chapel.

Prison officials first became aware of something wrong shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday when a male inmate was discovered missing during a routine check, according to a Department of Corrections statement. A few minutes later, the inmate was found in the chapel lobby and told officers that he had planned to escape.

An hour later, staff members realized that a correctional officer's keys and radio were missing and Biendl was found unresponsive in the chapel, the DOC statement said.

The inmate suspected of killing Biendl was serving a life without parole sentence, Thompson said.

Monroe Police are investigating the case.

Biendl was an eight-year veteran at the prison. Thompson said Biendl had complained to her union shop steward and prison supervisors about being the sole guard working in the chapel and feeling unsafe.

Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a statement Sunday on Biendl's death, saying, "I am truly saddened by her senseless murder. This young woman was devoted to an agency that works around the clock to ensure our communities are safe, which makes her death all the more tragic. I ask all Washingtonians to join me in keeping her loved ones in our thoughts and prayers."

Gregoire said she has asked Department of Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail for a thorough review of the incident as well as to look at the safeguards in place at the prison.

Biendl was a former Officer of the Year and the impact of her death on the people who knew her is evident.

"We are all shocked, saddened, and angered by this terrible tragedy," read a statement on the Teamsters Local 117 website Sunday morning.

Counseling is being offered to Local 117 members.