The Brutal Murder Next To The Apple Store

lululemon_bethesda_row

In 2011, Jayna Murray was slowly, brutally murdered at a Lululemon shop in a Bethesda, Maryland shopping area. She was bludgeoned with a hammer, slashed over 320 times with a box cutter, then strangled to death. Next door at the Apple Store, employees heard her tortuous screams, but didn’t lift a finger. Not to help her. Not to call the police. Nothing. It was just a day after the iPad 2 launched.

Although no one in the Apple Store was complicit in the murders, it was still a PR disaster for Apple’s retail outlet. Now a new book called The Yoga Store Murder by Washington Post reporter Dan Morse delves into the murder and its aftermath.

So what happened in that Bethesda Row Apple Store that night? An excerpt has just been posted online:

The sounds reached Jana Svrzo as she walked across the sales floor of the Apple Store, now closed for the night. Jana was 29 years old and wore funky black sneakers and a ready smile — an easy fit among Apple’s hip, young sales army. It was just after 10 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2011, in downtown Bethesda, and Jana, the store’s manager, had about an hour’s worth of record-keeping ahead of her, following the opening day sales for Apple’s hot new product, the iPad 2.

Now, though, she looked to her right and listened. The sounds were high-pitched yelps and squeals, and low-pitched grunts, thuds, a dragging noise, as if something heavy was being moved. Jana thought they might be coming from a room near the back exit or a room upstairs, where technicians were still on duty. She asked a security guard to help her search.

Jana and the guard split up, meeting two minutes later upstairs, where they spoke to another young manager, Ricardo Rios.

“Screaming,” the guard said. “It sounded like some lady was screaming.”

Make sure to read the whole thing, and if your interest is piqued, consider buying the book. There’s a lot to this case, including a surprising conspiracy by the killer to cover her tracks.

  • ZEROL3ONHEART

    Initially, by the name of the post, I wondered why this was news. After reading the article, the book sounds interesting as hell.

  • ElSaborAsiatico

    What a sad but perfect illustration of the bystander effect. If this had happened inside the Apple Store, the guards and employee would have been bound to intervene. But since it was going on next door and it was unclear what was happening, their sense of responsibility was diffused. The ambiguity of the situation allowed them to rationalize it away — we have a strong instinct to avoid the worst interpretations of ominous but unclear situations — and they grabbed at any cues (like people walking around undisturbed outside) that framed what was happening as a non-critical crisis.

    Meanwhile, the woman who entered the store the next morning had to take responsibility to act, because there was no one else around (when she entered) to diffuse responsibility, and because she was directly confronted with an emergency situation. She then went to the man outside and directly requested specific assistance, so that he was drawn in and the bystander effect could not occur.

    It seems like the difference between the two groups of people is that one related to each other as a social collective, and the other as individuals. We may think we’re the same person in any situation, but in fact we think and behave very differently in a group than as individuals. (And of course, when we read these stories we do so with our “individual” mindset, so we tend to judge the non-acting bystanders harshly.)

    The reflexive response is to see this as evidence of individualism being superior to the so-called “herd mentality,” but I think it just shows how useful a range of personalities in humans is to our society. We are social animals, and the instinct to act socially and surrender some measure of individual control to the greater good is normally a good thing — otherwise life would be nonstop chaos and danger. In this context, those who are more individualistic and/or less socially connected tend to have a harder time getting along, or are less favored by the majority. But in crisis situations, perhaps it’s the individual less constrained by social pressures (the “antisocial” type) who is freer and more likely to act.

    I like to believe that’s the case, because it shows that diversity in human personalities is a good thing for society, and everyone has inherent value, even if their personalities may be disadvantageous or undesirable in particular circumstances.

  • iFan41

    Seems like they did more than they had to, to begin with. There’s nothing saying you HAVE to get involved in something like that. Out of self preservation most wouldn’t, and I understand that. A phone call to police would have been good…but again, not required. Is it morally wrong? Thats debatable…I’m not sure I would want to poke my nose around something like that happening. I would have at least made a phone call though…

  • TomInTheDesert

    iFan41: Read what you wrote. You hear someone being beaten and slashed to death and you think it’s okay to do nothing? Calling the police is optional? You’re not sure it’s morally wrong not to call the police?

    iFan41, you’re a coward without morals. You are not part of society in any way shape or form. That pretty much makes you something I scrape off the bottom of my shoe.

    I sincerely hope you never get into a life-threatening jam that requires the assistance of another human being… because those folks might share your view of things.

  • Paul Burt

    iFan41: Read what you wrote. You hear someone being beaten and slashed to death and you think it’s okay to do nothing? Calling the police is optional? You’re not sure it’s morally wrong not to call the police?

    iFan41, you’re a coward without morals. You are not part of society in any way shape or form. That pretty much makes you something I scrape off the bottom of my shoe.

    I sincerely hope you never get into a life-threatening jam that requires the assistance of another human being… because those folks might share your view of things.

    Actually, he makes perfect sense. They didn’t know exactly what was going on. You can’t know exactly how you’d react until you actually get into a situation like that. Not knowing whether something crazy is going down or someone is screwing with me would be enough to make me do exactly what they did. If investigation didn’t definitively answer that, I’d go about my business like they did.

  • TomInTheDesert

    Paul Burt: So it’s all about you? Someone is screaming outside and you come to the conclusion someone is pranking you? Seriously?

    You and iFan41 need to step away from your computers and video games for awhile so you can see that that there is a real world out there filled with other people. Occasionally, some of them may need your help. You need to have the brains… and balls… to investigate and act accordingly.

    Good luck with that.

  • TomInTheDesert

    What, no snappy comebacks from brainless cowards iFan41 and Paul Burt?

    Wait. Perhaps they came to harm… but no one came to their aid because “They didn’t know exactly what was going on.” Or maybe they too shared the opinion, “I’m not sure I would want to poke my nose around something like that happening.”

    I reach for a hankie to blot the tears as I worry that perhaps iFan41 and Paul Burt, mortally injured by an assault, bled out on a sidewalk somewhere, simply because of a lack of intervention by a proverbial concerned citizen.

    “Is it morally wrong? That’s debatable.” BEST COWARDLY QUOTE EVER!

  • Paul Burt

    Paul Burt: So it’s all about you? Someone is screaming outside and you come to the conclusion someone is pranking you? Seriously?

    You and iFan41 need to step away from your computers and video games for awhile so you can see that that there is a real world out there filled with other people. Occasionally, some of them may need your help. You need to have the brains… and balls… to investigate and act accordingly.

    Good luck with that.

    They looked into it and couldn’t figure out definitely what was going on. I live near houses of screaming kids but you don’t see me calling 911 all the time because those kids might be getting murdered. They made an informed decision to not get involved and it wouldn’t have mattered much for the victim anyway.

    If I EVER need an asshole, I’ll be sure to call on TomInTheDesert since you’re clearly an expert in that.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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