Man accused in deaths of 22 elderly women in Texas killed in prison by his cellmate
DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of killing nearly two dozen older women and who was convicted last year in the slayings of two was killed Tuesday morning by his cellmate at a Texas prison, an official said.
Billy Chemirmir, 50, was found dead in his cell, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Hannah Haney. She said that Chemirmir’s cellmate, who is serving a sentence for murder, was identified as the assailant, but said she couldn’t release the cellmate’s identity or how Chemirmir was killed.
Authorities said Chemirmir preyed on older women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, killing them and stealing their valuables. Time after time, their deaths were initially determined to be from natural causes, even as family members raised alarm bells about missing jewelry.
He was caught after a 91-year-old woman survived an attack in 2018 and told police Chemirmir had forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community for seniors, tried to smother her with a pillow and took her jewelry.
Police said they found Chemirmir the following day in the parking lot of his apartment complex holding jewelry and cash, having just thrown away a large red jewelry box. Documents in the jewelry box led them to the home of Lu Thi Harris, 81, who was found dead in her bedroom.
After Chemirmir’s arrest, police across the Dallas area reexamined deaths, and the charges against him grew. Many of the victims’ children have said they were left perplexed by the deaths at the time, as their mothers, though older, were still healthy and active.
Following his second conviction, family members of those Chemirmir was accused of killing gathered at a Dallas courthouse to face him. In Ellen French House’s victim impact statement, she told Chemirmir, who was wearing a striped jail uniform, that she wanted him to see two photos of her mother: one of Norma French alive, the other after the 85-year-old was killed.