A man charged with killing 18 elderly women in Dallas over a two-year span insists he is innocent and will be acquitted in the case.
Billy Chemirmir, 49, is accused of smothering the women to death with a pillow by posing as a medical professional or maintenance person, then stealing their valuables, in a string of deaths in Texas that happened between 2016 and 2018.
During a phone interview from jail last week, Chemirmir denied all the charges against him and told The Dallas Morning News that he is ‘100% sure I will not go to prison’ for the murders of the 18 elderly women.
‘I am not a killer,’ Chemirmir told the newspaper. ‘I’m not at all what they’re saying I am. I am a very innocent person. I was not brought up that way.
‘I was brought up in a good family. I didn’t have any problems all my life.’
Chemirmir remains in the Dallas County Jail as he awaits an April 25 retrial, after the first jury to hear a murder case against him deadlocked 11-1
But in November 2021 a mistrial was declared in the case of Lu Thi Harris, an 81-year-old Vietnamese immigrant living in Dallas when she was killed.
Chemirmir remains in the Dallas County Jail as he awaits an April 25 retrial of the Harris murder, after the first jury to hear a murder case against him deadlocked 11-1.
The Harris trial lasted four days, and jurors began deliberating the outcome with a lone holdout preventing a verdict.
Prosecutors have vowed to retry the accused killer – with one key change in the retrial to be that families will be allowed in the courtroom.
Billy Chemirmir, 49, is accused of smothering 18 elderly women to death with a pillow by posing as a medical professional or maintenance person, then stealing their valuables, in a string of deaths in Texas that happened between 2016 and 2018 (Chemirmir pictured listening to the court at the murder trial in Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, November 2021)
In November 2021 a mistrial was declared in the case of Lu Thi Harris, an 81-year-old Vietnamese immigrant (pictured) living in Dallas when she was killed after being smothered with a pillow in her home in Plano
Covid policies at the time of the capital murder trial meant that the jury was not faced with the family and friends of the alleged victim, something which loved ones and attorneys argue would have played a huge part in the verdict.
Relatives of other alleged victims denounced the ruling in November during a press conference outside the Frank Crowley Courts Building.
Cliff Harris, the son of Miriam Nelson, who was killed on 9 March 2018, argued that it was ‘the wrong thing to do’ in leaving families out of the courtroom, and that they would have had a ‘much better chance’: ‘We certainly would have won this today, hands down.’
Covid policies at the time of the capital murder trial meant that the jury was not faced with the family and friends of the alleged victim, something which loved ones and attorneys argue would have played a huge part in the verdict (pictured, families of other alleged victims speaking at Frank Crowley Courts Building after mistrial in November 2021)
M.J. Jennings poses for a photo of her mother Leah Corken at her home in Dallas, in November 2021. Corken was one of 18 women in the Dallas area that Billy Chemirmir is charged with capital murder
Police in various communities in North Texas are investigating Chemirmir for other alleged victims, who believe that a number of deaths that were previously reported to be of ‘natural causes’ may be linked to him.
Ellen French House, whose mother Norma French was killed, said she was ‘devastated’ by the outcome.
‘This case represents my mother’s case and at least 24 other murders,’ she said. ‘We’re encouraged the prosecutors will try this case again and we’re confident the jury will convict.
‘We’re all devastated by this. We are in total shock.’
Police say that this led them to the home of Liu Thu Harris after finding documents in a large red jewelry box that he has just thrown away. She was found dead in her bedroom with lipstick smeared on her pillow (prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin, right, shows the stained pillow to court at the Harris trial, at Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, on 16 November 2021)
Chemirmir was arrested in March 2018 after 91-year-old Mary Annis Bartel said a man forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community for seniors in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
When police tracked Chemirmir to his nearby apartment following the attack on Bartel, they found him holding jewelry and cash.
Police say that this led them to the home of Liu Thu Harris after finding documents in a large red jewelry box that he has just thrown away.
She was found dead in her bedroom with lipstick smeared on her pillow.
It is alleged by police that Chemirmir used his work as a caregiver to stalk luxury senior living communities in Dallas and Colin counties, posing as a worker to get into the apartments of elderly women before smothering them with a pillow and stealing their valuables.
Chemirmir told the newspaper he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He said that other family members, who have declined to the speak to the newspaper, operate other senior living homes in the Dallas area where no suspicious deaths have been reported.
‘If I was a killer, I could’ve killed all those ladies,’ he said. ‘Nobody has been killed there.’
Chemirmir told the newspaper he was born and raised in Kenya’s Rift Valley, between the cities of Eldoret and Nakuru, and that he’s the son of a wealthy farmer, and the second of three wives. He is also one of 28 children.
The 49-year-old said he began working as a caregiver in Kenya for his father, who was 100 years old at the time.
Glenna Day, 87, (right) was found alone in her apartment laying on her bed with paint on her hands and patio, and police found an empty Rolex box upon searching the crime scene, and Leah Corken, 83, (left) was found dead in her home in Dallas in 2016, with her wedding ring missing
He moved in 2003 to the US, where he sold cars and began working as a senior caregiver in Dallas, beginning with agencies who would find clients for him, adding that he later made much more money by finding his own customers.
The 49-year-old would charge them $20 or $30 an hour to take care of the elderly in the northern Texas areas.
This change to independent work was how he met the family of Carolyn MacPhee, who died in December 2017 – and is one of the five indictments charged against him.
The family of MacPhee say they hired the senior caregiver to take care of their father, Jack MacPhee, who died in April 2017.
Carolyn’s sons, Scott and Robert MacPhee, have said that investigators believe Chemirmir went back to to their mother’s home after their father’s death, took her jewelry, and killed Carolyn MacPhee – six months after the death of her husband.
They pointed out that examination of her house found ‘several things out of place’, including missing jewelry, after initially ruling her death to be of natural causes.
The MacPhee brothers say blood found on her glasses was a match to Chemirmir.
Chemirmir was an extension of their family, they said, but he always remained ‘aloof’ and ‘a little distant’.
The accusations are very similar to that of the other 18 alleged victims’ families and several other investigators into the north Dallas cases, with the loved ones all paying close attention to the Harris trial for that reason.
But Chemirmir said that he knew the home well, and that he was aware of valuable items stored in a safe in the garage.
Using this in his defense, he argued that he would have taken the higher-value items if he was the killer – ‘That would’ve been the first place to go’, he told The Dallas Morning News.
Chemirmir was arrested for tresspassing in the high-end Edgemere community in Dallas in June 2016, where three victims have been identified.
He was sentenced to 70 days but released after 12 days on ‘good behavior’ at Dallas County Jail – and after his release, he returned to Edgemere to take care of elderly clients.
No other suspicious deaths were reported in Edgemere.
The 49-year-old started to visit The Tradition-Prestonwood, a retirement village where nine victims have ben identified.
Catherine Probst, 88, was found dead in April 2016 (left) and Juanita Purdy, 82, was found dead in July 2016, with $28,000 worth of jewelry missing
Another retirement community called Parkview Frisco saw one victim killed in September 2017, and a victim who survived an attack the following month.
Police say seven women were murdered at Preston Place, another retirement complex in Plano, between October 2017 and March 2018, and another four women who were killed in their private homes in Dallas, Plano and Richardson.
Medical examiners who initally attributed the deaths to natural causes began to change the death certificates from ‘heart attack’ to ‘homicide’, which is something Chemirmir argues is another reason to find him innocent.
He says that he thinks the medical examiner was under pressure from ‘politicians and people’s families’, eventually changing his mind in regard to the cause of death.
Cheryl Pangburn, whose mother, Marilyn Bixler, was killed in 2017 and is suspected of being one of Chemirmir’s alleged victims, said she was disappointed that he was reaching out to journalists to try and sway public opinion toward him.
‘You hope that he feels some kind of remorse, and the fact is he feels nothing,’ Pangburn said.
‘I cannot comprehend that the human mind can work that way.
‘We’re saddened, we’re sick,’ she said. ‘We extend our sympathy to Lu Thi Harris’ family that they didn’t get the justice they deserve for the murder of their mom.’
She said the trial was just one leg of a lifelong journey for relatives of the alleged victims.
‘This was just another bump in the road, bring on the next one,’ she told reporters. ‘We’ve got multiple things to try him on. We’re along for the ride for however it takes.’
TIMELINE OF DEATHS IN CHEMIRMIR CASE:
May 14, 2016: Billy Chemirmir allegedly murdered Phyllis Payne, 91, at Edgemere Senior Living
June 5, 2016: Allegedly murdered Phoebe Perry, 94
July 20, 2016: Allegedly murdered Joyce Abramowitz, 82
July 31, 2016: Allegedly murdered Juanita Purdy, 83 at The Tradition
August 19, 2016: Allegedly murdered Leah Corken, 83 at The Tradition
August 28, 2016: Allegedly smothered Margaret White, 86
October 2017: Attempted murder of a 93-year-old woman in Frisco
October 8, 2016: Death of Norma French, 85, at The Tradition
October 29, 2016: Death of Doris Gleason, 92, at The Tradition
October 31, 2017: Death of Minnie Campbell, 83, at Preston Place
September 17, 2017: Marilyn Bixler was found dead in Frisco
December 24, 2017: Allegedly killed Doris Wasserman, 90
December 31, 2017: Death of Carolyn MacPhee, 81,
January 17, 2018: Death of Rosemary Curtis, 76,
January 31, 2018: Death of Mary Brooks
March 2018: Attempted murder of a 91-year-old woman in Plano
March 4, 2018: Death of Martha Williams, 80, at Preston Place
March 20, 2018: Allegedly smothered first identified victim Lu Thi Harris, 81, on March 20, 2018, and is arrested
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