Community Mourns Loss Of Monroe Corrections Officer - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Community Mourns Loss Of Monroe Corrections Officer

>>>Corrections Officer Killed; Officials Want Answers

>>>FIRST ON KHQ: Female Corrections Officer Killed At Monroe Correctional Complex; WARNING: Graphic Material

KIROTV.COM - As corrections officers head back to work Monday, the community is mourning Jayme Biendl, a corrections officer who was killed while on duty at the Monroe Correctional Complex Saturday night.

Candles, flowers and balloons were on display outside the prison Monday morning after people gathered Sunday night and lit candles to remember the 34-year-old woman police said was strangled by an inmate. The Granite Falls woman worked at the facility for the last eight years. Officials said Biendl was assigned to the prison chapel, and according to many co-workers, she had serious concerns about working the post alone.

On Saturday night, inmate Byron Scherf was found near the chapel after being absent for a 9 p.m. head count, the Washington State Department of Corrections said.

Byron E. Scherf is the inmate accused of killing Jayme Biendl at the Monroe Correctional Facility.

Scherf was found three minutes later in the chapel lobby and told officers he'd planned to escape, the DOC said.

More than an hour later, staff members noticed that a correctional officer's keys and radio were missing and Biendl did not show up for a shift change.

Minutes later, Biendl was found strangled with a microphone cord. Scherf is the prime suspect in the killing.

Scherf is a three-strikes offender sentenced to life in prison without parole for assault and rape convictions.

KIRO's partner, the Daily Herald of Everett, reported the first strike for 52-year-old Scherf was for a 1978 assault.

His second strike was for a 1981 rape in Pierce County in which he kidnapped and assaulted a waitress at an abandoned house.

He poured gasoline on the woman and set her on fire, but she managed to escape. Scherf's third strike and life sentence followed his 1997 conviction in Spokane for kidnapping and raping a real estate agent near Spangle.

If Scherf is convicted of an aggravated murder charge he could face the death penalty.Prison officials said when Scherf started serving his life sentence he was under high security. Four years into his sentence, that changed."His behavior was as a pretty model offender during that time.

He earned his medium custody," said Monroe Correctional Complex Superintendent Scott Frakes. Some of Biendl's co-workers said they wonder if prison administrators could have done more to prevent the killing from happening. Some said a staff shortage due to budget cuts may have played a role and might have prevented the prison from having more than one guard assigned to the chapel.

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