Diana Hefley and Scott North Herald Writers
Jayme Biendl kicked, bit and grappled with the larger Scherf for mi nutes in the prison chapel before he managed to loop an amplifier cord around her neck, the inmate told detectives in a series of taped interviews in February.
Scherf said he used about “75 percent” of his strength in pulling tight the cord around Biendl’s neck and then claimed he “blacked out” for several minutes, until after the corrections officer was dead.
The statements Scherf made to detectives were made public Wednesday in response to public records requests.
Word of Scherf’s confession first surfaced in court papers filed in February, but the transcripts of the interviews provide more description about the Jan. 29 attack.
Scherf told detectives Biendl had said something to him that evening that he considered to be disrespectful to his wife, and that was what set him off. Detectives tried to get Scherf to explain further, but he said that was between him and Biendl.
He also said Biendl’s comment was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for him, and she paid the price for what he considered to be years of injustice while serving time in prison for multiple rapes.
Scherf told detectives that he initially only intended to hurt Biendl, but as the evening passed his thoughts turned toward murder. Once he’d made up his mind to kill the officer, he knew that he had to keep her from summoning help, he said.
He described walking up quietly behind Biendl in the chapel as she was securing a door. He said she tried to dart away, but he cornered her against a wall. She tried to reason with him and reminded him that he had a wife.
Scherf said he told her, “Don’t bring my wife up ever again.”
Early in the struggle, Scherf said, he tore the radio microphone from her uniform, where it had been attached near her shoulder. The pair then fought over the radio holstered on her hip. Biendl at one point was yelling and using both hands, trying to hang on to the radio and to summon help.
“Do you remember what she was saying?” a detective asked.
“‘Help, help, please help,” Scherf said.
Was there any response on the radio?
“None whatsoever,” Scherf told detectives. “I, I didn’t hear a squawk out of that radio. I didn’t know if the thing worked. The battery might have been dead. I don’t know. Just, I never … the whole time, I never heard anything out of it.”
Scherf gave the statements against the advice of his attorney at the time and after being advised of his right to remain silent. He wanted to bargain with investigators, asking for their assistance in making his time in jail a bit more comfortable.
They agreed to help him get a blanket and a Bible in his cell but also documented that they weren’t doing the man any favors.
Scherf at one point summoned detectives to discuss some news reports he’d read. The stories detailed information in search warrants detectives had obtained during the early stages of the investigation. Scherf said that he read that detectives had seized his guitar from his cell at the prison in Monroe. He wanted to know when he’d get the instrument back.
He also was concerned about detectives finding what they thought was a rape kit hidden in the chapel. Scherf explained that the shoelaces and ointment were his, but said the laces were spares for his running shoes and the ointment kept him from getting chaffed on long runs. He tossed the bundle in a planter in the chapel because he was concerned about how those items might look to investigators, he said.
“You people have to understand that if I had intended to rape her, I would have raped her. It’s never been a problem in the past. And forgive me for being blunt like that but basically I had control of that situation and her and I could have done anything I wanted to do to her,” Scherf said.
By Scherf’s own account, Biendl fought with him. She bit his finger so hard she drew blood. Scherf said the bruises all over his body were from his struggle with the corrections officer.
The transcripts also detail how Scherf told detectives that he didn’t want his case to drag on and that he hoped to face swift justice, which he believed would require him to forfeit his life. He said he wanted to meet with prosecutors, and claimed the media was “terrorizing” his family, especially his wife.
“The only way it’s going to stop is when this thing’s finally over. When I’m convicted and sentenced, it’s done,” Scherf said.
He also reportedly wept when he told them that Biendl didn’t deserve to die.
“The Bible says if you take a life, you give a life. That’s all I can say,” the transcript quotes Scherf, noting that he was crying at the time.
Scherf, 52, is charged with aggravated murder, and prosecutors have made clear they are seeking the death penalty. The serial rapist was serving a life sentence when Biendl was killed.
Scherf’s lawyers last month asked Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne to order prosecutors to seal roughly 300 pages of documents, including transcripts and police reports. The Herald sought the documents after Scherf was charged in March. Other media also filed records requests.
Scherf’s lawyers argued that the release of the documents would prevent Scherf from receiving a fair trial. Wynne ruled that the documents are public records and there are no legal reasons to withhold them.
A state Supreme Court commissioner late Tuesday upheld Wynne’s ruling, refusing to grant Scherf’s attorneys an emergency stay.
Scherf’s lawyers did not object to the earlier release of about 1,600 pages of police reports about the case. Those documents described how Scherf calmly explained to corrections officers who found him alone in the chapel that he’d fallen asleep and that Biendl must have missed him when she left for home.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.