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Union President: Murdered Correctional Officer Voiced Safety Concerns

For the first time in more than 30 years, a Washington correctional officer has been murdered on the job.

Jayme Biendl was strangled to death Saturday night.

Inmate Byron E. Scherf, courtesy Wash. DOC

The chief suspect in her murder is an inmate named Byron E. Scherf.

He’s serving life without parole for rape — although it’s not believed Biendl was sexually assaulted.

The murder happened in the chapel at the prison in Monroe.

Teamsters’ union president Tracey Thompson says she’s heard from her members that Biendl had voiced concerns about security in the chapel.

Tracey Thompson: “She had talked with supervisors and about feeling unsafe in the chapel because she’s there alone and there aren’t cameras that actually focus in on the chapel area itself and so she felt there was no way for her to be monitored and for anyone to be checking on her.”

In fact, the victim wasn’t found right away.

Instead, prison staff first found the suspect near the chapel after he missed a 9 p.m. head count.

Biendl wasn’t discovered missing until an hour later when she failed to turn in her equipment at shift change.

Last year, the Teamsters union filed a lawsuit against the Department of Correction over budget cuts. But Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail says it’s standard to have one officer assigned to the chapel.