Monroe inmate, suspect in officer’s slaying, has a record of violence

TACOMA — A prison inmate suspected of strangling a corrections officer at the Monroe Correctional Complex on Saturday has a history of attacking women.

A staff psychiatrist at Western State Hospital who examined Byron Scherf 30 years ago predicted that no amount of treatment or incarceration would curb Scherf’s dangerousness.

“I feel that even after treatment for his rape tendencies he would still be of strong enough antisocial personality that he would continue to break the law,” staff psychiatrist Donald Allison wrote in a March 10, 1981, report to a Pierce County judge.

Monroe police have named Scherf the prime suspect in the death of Jayme Biendl, 34. The corrections officer was found dead in the prison chapel Saturday evening.

Corrections officers found Scherf near the chapel about an hour earlier. He allegedly told them he was planning to escape. The 52-year-old inmate is serving a life sentence without the possibility of release under the state’s “three strikes” law.

He accumulated two of his strikes in Pierce County, according to court records.

The first came in 1978 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after attacking a 16-year-old girl with a knife. He and two buddies picked up the girl as she hitchhiked in Tacoma. Prosecutors alleged Scherf intended to rape the girl.

He served two years of a 10-year sentence at the Monroe prison and was released in 1980.

Less than a year later, prosecutors charged him with kidnapping, rape, robbery and assault after he abducted a young Pierce County waitress at knifepoint, bound her, raped her, doused the room she was in with gasoline and set it on fire, according to court records.

“The waitress survived by wriggling, still bound, through a second-story window,” court records show. “Her fall was broken by a veranda porch, after which she managed to free herself and call for help.”

Scherf pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and first-degree assault in May 1981 and was sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.

He served about 12 years in prison before being paroled.

Scherf later was convicted of abducting and raping a Spokane-area real estate agent in 1995: his third strike.

Born in Minnesota, Scherf moved with his parents and six siblings to Tacoma in 1968, according to a pre-sentence investigatory report prepared after his first conviction.

He attended Baker Junior High School and started 10th grade at Mount Tahoma High School before dropping out in 1976.

“While still in school he worked as an apprentice cabinet maker for eight months in Lakewood, Wash.,” the report states.

He moved to Oregon for a short time to live with a brother but returned to Tacoma in June 1976 and joined the Army but was discharged after a few months “because he showed signs of social and emotional maladjustment,” the report shows.

Scherf, whose parents eventually divorced, got into trouble with the law as a juvenile and spent time in the Remann Hall juvenile detention center in Tacoma. Pierce County court records show a 1973 conviction as a juvenile for unlawful entry of a residence.

“(His mother) is apparently unable to cope with her son’s problems and indicated the only thing she could do for him was pray,” parole officer Linda Engleking wrote in the pre-sentence report.

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