Man accused in deaths of 22 elderly women killed in prison
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 spokesperson 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.
Family members of the victims who gathered at a news conference expressed shock and relief at the news.
“My mother died in fear. This man did not have a peaceful passing. There’s some relief in feeling that he didn’t get off easily,” said Shannon Dion, whose 92-year-old mother, Doris Gleason, was among those Chemirmir was charged with killing.
The 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 about missing jewellery.
Chemirmir was caught after a 91-year-old woman survived a 2018 attack and told police a man had forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community for seniors, tried to smother her with a pillow and took her jewellery.
Police said they found Chemirmir the following day in the parking lot of his apartment complex holding jewellery and cash, having just thrown away a large red jewellery box. Documents in the jewellery 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 area re-examined 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.