Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Could Jayme Biendl’s death been avoided?


February 7, 2011

Since the senseless murder of Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl on January 29, many are left wondering how this could have happened. Is there really just one correct answer?

Biendl, of Granite Falls, had been a corrections officer at the Monroe Correctional Facility since 2002 and had applied for the post in the chapel five years ago where she was seldom alone with inmates.

While budget cuts were the biggest issue when the killing was brought to the public’s attention, it is reported that the facility has only let go of one corrections officer. That officer worked in the kitchen area of the prison.

Assuming that staffing was the most pertinent issue in Biendl’s slaying is most likely incorrect.

Others have questioned why Biendl, among other officers, didn’t carry a gun? Honestly, that was the first question that popped into my mind.

I have since discovered that corrections officers are highly trained in fighting without weapons and the risk they run of an inmate, or inmates, overtaking them and getting hold of their weapons is high.

Officers are taught to talk inmates down when problems arise.

Another suggestion is that Scherf, the inmate suspected of murdering Biendl, should have been in permanent lockup and should not have been allowed to wander the prison at will.

This may be the most obvious blunder that may come to light during the investigation into Biendl’s death.

Scherf had many signs that his violent past was just that—a thing of the past. It had been over 10 years since his last incident and he was 52 years old. Old by violence standards.

However, he was convicted of three vicious attacks on women, all of which he planned out in advance. He allegedly was hiding under a table in the chapel where Biendl was assigned.

Could her death have been avoided? Most likely, yes and hopefully the several investigations taking place will give the answers we are looking for.

For now, Scherf, if convicted, could be given the death penalty and a family still mourns the loss of their loved one. If one thing can be learned from all of this, it’s that violent criminals, which Scherf was convicted of being on three different occasions, usually don’t change their behavior—no matter how long they have been locked up.


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