By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
The procession and hearse carrying the body of Jayme Biendl rolled slowly past the c entury-old edifice about 11:10 a.m.
The mourners were silent. Those dressed in dark blue uniforms saluted. Others stood at attention as the police motorcycles and black limousines drove past.
Biendl, 34, had climbed the same steep stone steps hundreds of times during the past seven years as a corrections officer at the reformatory. She was strangled Jan. 29 in the prison chapel, her post in the prison since 2005. A convicted rapist facing a life sentence without the possibility of parole is the prime suspect.
Shari Hall, a spokeswoman from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, was among the estimated 200 workers from other prisons who pulled shifts at the Monroe Correctional Complex on Tuesday so Biendl’s colleagues could attend her memorial.
“We want the staff here to know they are not alone,” Hall said.
Down the hill from the prison in Monroe, small gatherings dotted the sidewalks and shoulders of W. Main Street.
Biendl’s casket was driven beneath a giant American flag held up by two fire truck ladders.
Craig Wolf, 65, a retired King County sheriff’s deputy, waited for the motorcade beside his pickup truck.
“This is what we do for our brothers and our sisters,” he said.
Standing in his work boots across the street, Monroe resident Derek Hudon took a break from his farm duties. He watched and waited for the motorcade with his nearly 2-year-old niece, Piper, on his shoulders. Next to him was his mother, Mary Hudon.
“It’s strange,” Mary Hudon said. “I didn’t even know her, but I brought flowers and a candle” to a roadside memorial.
“It hits too close to home,” she added.
Derek Hudon said he was there for one simple reason: to honor Biendl, the Monroe prison’s corrections officer of the year in 2008.
“I need to pay my respects,” he said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org