A show of respect

EVERETT — Her family privately said goodbye.

For a few hours Tuesday, the entire county was able to pay their respects to Jayme Biendl, a 34-year-old Granite Falls native and corrections officer.

She was killed Jan. 29 at her post at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe.

Officials estimated that at least 3,500 people attended her memorial at Comcast Arena.

It was the largest public display of mourning in Everett in at least a decade.

Some streets downtown were closed. Two ladder fire trucks were parked along Hewitt Avenue near Comcast Arena, a gigantic U.S. flag draped between them.

The streets outside the arena were choked with women and men dressed in law enforcement uniforms.

They arrived on foot and in chartered buses. They filled restaurants along Hewitt. They stood in knots on the street.

Civilians gathered as well, many snapping photos of the flag that stirred over Hewitt Avenue.

An employee at Hat Trick Pizza on Hewitt pulled a step ladder outside, stood on it and pulled the flag next to the restaurant’s doorway halfway down its pole — a gesture of respect.

Earlier that morning, those closest to Biendl gathered at a funeral home in Marysville to accompany her body to the memorial.

A group of 16 Marysville city employees and Mayor Jon Nehring arrived at the corner of State Avenue and Eighth Street near the Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home.

“We wanted to show our support,” the mayor said.

Several police officers on motorcycles pulled off the street, onto sidewalks, to allow the hearse carrying Biendl’s casket to enter traffic. The vehicle was followed by another carrying family members who looked out the window at the group gathered a respectful distance across the street.

Tears rolled down the faces of a few who were watching the motorcade depart.

Jim Michaud of Marysville said he hoped standing at the corner demonstrated his respect for Biendl and her family.

“I wanted to be here to recognize someone who put their life on the line,” he said.

The motorcade headed first to Monroe and past the prison where Biendl worked, then to Everett.

By 11:30 a.m., the streets around the arena were clogged with hundreds of people. It was quiet except for the drone of news helicopters above.

A pipe and drum corps waited in an empty parking lot at the corner of Hewitt and Rockefeller.

A uniformed officer stood on a side street, holding the reins of a riderless brown mare. In keeping with military tradition, a pair of boots placed were in the stirrups, backward.

The motorcycle officers arrived first, turning from Wetmore Avenue onto Hewitt. The hearse carrying Biendl’s body followed and slowly came to a stop.

The pipe and drum corps marched to the front of the procession, followed by the riderless horse.

As the line of cars slowly approached the arena, each vehicle was escorted by two walking members of the honor guard, their white-gloved hands on the cars’ hoods.

With the skirl from the bagpipes and the thump of drums, the procession crept forward.

Officers along the route stood at attention and saluted as the hearse passed. When it pulled to a stop, an honor guard carefully removed the casket, which was draped with a U.S. flag. Biendl’s family stood nearby.

Ranks of officers stood at attention in front of the arena, creating a corridor of uniforms. The honor guard shepherded the casket into the arena.

Inside, mourners rose to their feet in silence as Biendl’s casket was placed in front of a flower-laden stage.

After the ceremony, Eric Mogensen, a civilian worker at the Monroe Correctional Complex, talked about seeing Biendl several times on the sprawling prison campus.

The memorial was touching, he said.

“I got torn up when they handed the flag to her mom,” he said. “That was probably the hardest part.”

Reporter Eric Stevick contributed to this report.

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