Prison Guard Who Feared Working Alone Found Dead

Jayme Biendl raised concern about safety in prison chapel before incident
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2011 2:04 AM CST
Byron E. Scherf, who is serving a life prison sentence at the Monroe Correctional Complex, has been identified as the chief suspect in the killing of corrections officer Jayme Biendl,.   (AP Photo/Washington Department of Corrections)
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(Newser) – A Washington prison guard who warned it was dangerous having only one officer stationed in the prison chapel was strangled there on Saturday, reports AP. Authorities suspect she was killed by a 52-year-old inmate serving a life sentence without parole for first-degree rape and kidnapping, having violated the state's "three strikes" law. Guard Jayme Biendl, 34, led religious services at the prison, and had worked there since 2002.

Prison officials denied the dangerous situation had anything to do with budget cuts, saying the "staffing model" had not changed. But the guards' union says there had been staffing reductions. "We have been pushing so hard on safety issues," said a spokesman for the guards' union. "It makes me crazy that it took someone getting murdered inside a prison while doing their job for there to be attention on this work and how difficult and dangerous it can be."

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