billy Chemirmir posed as an orderly or maintenance worker to enter the homes and senior living centers of the unsuspecting elderly women he stalked for two years in the Dallas area, suffocating them with a pillow and stealing their valuables.
It was always initially determined that her death had a natural cause, although family members raised the alarm about missing jewelry.
It was only when a 91-year-old woman survived an attack in 2018 that Chemirmir was finally caught. The woman told police he forced his way into her apartment in an independent senior living community, tried to suffocate her with a pillow and made off with her jewelry.
The next day, police found Chemirmir with jewelry and money in his hand, having just thrown away a large red jewelry box. The attack – and the jewelry box findings – opened the door to a disturbing pattern of suspicious deaths of elderly women in the area.
In October 2022, Chemirmir learned he would spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of two of the murders, one of which ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.
Chemirmir was also accused of killing dozens of other women and was later charged with 22 counts of murder: 13 in Dallas County and nine in Collin County. But he escaped death again last month when prosecutors in Collin County said they would not seek the death penalty in their cases following the two convictions.
Some family members of the victims, who earlier faced an expressionless Chemirmir at the sentencing, told him that “the ultimate crime did not receive the ultimate punishment.”
Chemirmir was found dead in his prison cell on Monday, according to Hannah Haney, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Corrections. He was 50 years old.
Ms. Haney said Chemirmir’s cellmate, who is serving a sentence for murder, was identified as the attacker, but said she could not reveal the cellmate’s identity or how Chemirmir was killed.
Chemirmir, who had always maintained his innocence, was serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.
Last week, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced it was implementing lockdown measures in response to “an increase in dangerous contraband and drug-related inmate homicides.” The Associated Press reported.
At the time of this announcement last Wednesday, the agency said there had been 16 inmate homicides so far this year.
Through the lockdown, prisons restricted inmates’ freedom of movement and their contact with outsiders. In addition, inmates and staff were increasingly searched. A more stringent drug testing protocol has also been introduced.
Ms. Haney said the inspector general’s office is investigating his death.
Suspected serial killer Billy Chemirmir killed in prison
How a jewelry box led to Chemirmir’s arrest
Chemirmir was caught when Mary Annis Bartel, 91, survived an attack in 2018 and told police that the man forced his way into her home at the Parkview nursing facility in Frisco, a senior living community, and tried to cover her with a pillow suffocate took her jewelry.
Ms. Bartel, who died in 2020, described in a recorded police interview that Chemirmir suddenly appeared at her door wearing green rubber gloves as he forced her to the floor and held a pillow over her face.
Police said they found Chemirmir the next day in the parking lot of his apartment complex with jewelry and cash, having just thrown away a large red jewelry box.
Documents in the jewelry box led them to the home of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris, who was found dead in her bedroom.
After Chemirmir’s arrest, police throughout the Dallas area reinvestigated the deaths, and charges against him mounted. Many of the victims’ children said they were perplexed by the deaths at the time because their mothers were older but still healthy and active.
Chemirmir was convicted of the murder of 87-year-old Mary Brooks
Chemirmir’s first capital murder trial involved the killing of Lu Thi Harris, but ended in a mistrial in Dallas County.
He was later convicted in a retrial of Harris’ death and then of a second murder of 87-year-old Mary Brooks.
Authorities initially believed Brooks died of natural causes, but the family reported that many of her favorite jewelry items were missing.
Her shopping bags were left on the counter, a coral necklace and several diamond rings were missing, the prosecutor said.
In affidavits, police have said that surveillance footage showed Chemirmir at a Walmart store as Mary Brooks was shopping there the day before her body was found.
What did the victims’ families say to Chemirmir?
Fifteen family members of the victims faced Chemirmir in court after he was convicted and sentenced in October in Dallas County.
Some of the families offered forgiveness, while others said they felt justice was not fully served.
“We choose to forgive you,” Lu Thi Harris’ granddaughter Karen Vuong said in a prerecorded video. “That doesn’t mean we don’t think you deserve to feel and experience the consequences of your actions. We still believe you do.”
But Cheryl Bixler Pangburn, whose mother Marilyn Bixler was killed at Parkview Frisco in 2017, told Chemirmir, “The ultimate crime did not receive the ultimate punishment.”
“And that’s why, ultimately, some of us will never feel like we received the justice that we deserved,” she said.
In her victim impact statement, Ellen French House told Chemirmir she wanted him to see two photos of her mother: one of Norma French alive, the other after the 85-year-old was killed.
“This is my beautiful mother,” House said as she showed the first photo. “This is my mother after you ripped the wedding ring off her finger that she couldn’t even get off.”
Who was Billy Chemirmir?
Chemirmir told police during interviews that he worked as a carer and security guard and made money by buying and selling jewelry.
During a telephone interview from prison in 2021, Chemirmir denied all allegations against him and told The Dallas Morning News that he was “100 percent sure I wasn’t going to jail.”
“I am not a murderer,” Chemirmir told the newspaper at the time. “I am not at all what they say. I am a very innocent person. I wasn’t raised that way. I grew up in a good family. I haven’t had any problems my whole life.”
Chemirmir had previously told the media that he was born and raised in Kenya’s Rift Valley and that he was the son of a wealthy farmer. Chemirmir said he began working as a caregiver in Kenya and moved to the U.S. in 2003, where he sold cars and began working as a senior caregiver in Dallas.
Accordingly The Associated Press, He had worked as a nurse in his home country of Kenya, but does not appear to have legally worked in health care in the United States.