Texas serial killer found dead in prison cell

TENNESSEE COLONY, TX – A notorious serial killer, implicated in the murders of 22 elderly women, was found dead in his Texas prison cell early Tuesday. Billy Chemirmir, 50, was serving life without parole at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, according to Hannah Haney, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The identity of Chemirmir’s cellmate, who is also serving a life sentence for murder and is suspected of being the assailant, has not been disclosed. The cause of Chemirmir’s death remains undisclosed as well. The Office of the Inspector General is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

Chemirmir, a former healthcare worker, was known for suffocating his victims in their homes or senior living centers to steal their jewelry for resale. He was suspected of murdering 13 elderly women in Dallas County and nine more in the neighboring Collin County, as reported by the Dallas Morning News.

Chemirmir was convicted for the murders of two women, Mary Brooks, 87, and Lu Thi Harris, 81. In April 2022, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without parole. The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office stated that this sentence would ensure Chemirmir would die in a Texas prison.

Initially, most of the deaths were attributed to natural causes. However, the case took a turn when 91-year-old Mary Bartel reported that Chemirmir had attempted to smother her with a pillow at a retirement community in Plano and stole her jewelry. This led the police to reopen their investigation. Chemirmir was found the next day in his apartment complex’s parking lot with jewelry and cash, and a large red jewelry box that led investigators to the home of Lu Thi Harris.

Despite the evidence against him, Chemirmir maintained his innocence, claiming he was not a killer and that he was raised in a good family. His first trial for Harris’ murder ended in a mistrial, but he was later convicted in a second trial for her death and for the murder of Brooks.

Following his conviction, the families of his alleged victims confronted him in a Dallas courthouse. Ellen French House, one of the victims’ daughters, showed Chemirmir two photos of her mother, one alive and one after her death, and told him about the wedding ring he had pried from her mother’s finger. The families of the victims have been notified of Chemirmir’s death.