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Texas ‘serial killer’ healthcare worker, 48, formally charged with 17 murders of elderly people

Suspected Texas serial killer Billy Chemirmir, 48, on Tuesday was indicted by a grand jury on three additional counts of capital murder stemming from the deaths of three women, bringing his total to 17

A suspected Texas serial killer has been indicted on three additional counts of capital murder after previously being charged with smothering 14 elderly women to death and stealing their valuables.

A Dallas County Grand Jury on Tuesday indicted healthcare worker Billy Chemirmir, 48, on murder charges in the deaths of Joyce Abramowitz, 82; Doris Wasserman, 90, and Margaret White, 86, who were all killed at The Tradition-Prestonwood senior living community in Dallas between July 2016 and December 2017.

Chemirmir, a Kenyan national living in the US illegally, now faces a total of 17 capital murder charges and two counts of attempted capital murder stemming from similar attacks.

Medical examiner reports and civil lawsuits have also linked Chemirmir to seven other deaths in North Texas, but so far he has not been formally charged in those. 

Many of the deaths now attributed to Chemirmir were first listed as deaths by natural causes as no foul play was suspected.

All three women were killed at The Tradition-Prestonwood senior living community in Dallas (pictured) between July 2016 and December 2017

All three women were killed at The Tradition-Prestonwood senior living community in Dallas (pictured) between July 2016 and December 2017

However, once he was identified as a suspect in March 2018, detectives began reviewing hundreds of natural death cases to attempt to identify other potential victims.

He is still being investigated for nearly 1,000 unsolved deaths or attacks mostly targeting elderly women in nursing homes. 

Chemirmir is being investigated in connection to the death of Catherine Probst Sinclair at the Edgemere senor living facility in North Dallas in April 2016

Chemirmir is being investigated in connection to the death of Catherine Probst Sinclair at the Edgemere senor living facility in North Dallas in April 2016

Chemirmir remains in jail on $11.6million bail. He has maintained his innocence. 

If convicted of capital murder, Chemirmir could face the death penalty. 

The suspect’s defense attorney, Phillip Hayes, told The Dallas Morning News that the evidence against his client is circumstantial, and that prosecutors have been eager to pin every unexplained death that has occurred in the region on Chemirmir. 

‘If you look at all of it, it doesn’t stand up,’ Hayes said of the allegations.   

The trio of deaths that sparked the latest round of indictments against Chemirmir first came to light in civil complaints that had been filed against the retirement community where the victims lived.

Joyce Abramowitz died in July 2016, three months after she went to the police to report that someone had stolen jewelry from her while she was on vacation.

After her death, the woman’s son reported that a safe was missing from her room. 

Leah Corken, 83

Juanita Prudy, 82

Leah Corken, 83 (left), and Juanita Prudy, 82 (right), were allegedly smothered to death by Chemirmir within weeks of each other in the summer of 2016

Lu Thi Harris, 81

Doris Gleason, 92

Chemirmir was initially charged in 2018 with the murder of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris (left). In 2019, Chemirmir was indicted on six more murder charges, including the murder of Doris Gleason (right), 92, on October 29, 2016

Just a month later, Margaret White was found dead at The Tradition Prestonwood complex, where her apartment was found to have been stripped of her jewelry.

A day before Christmas in 2017, Doris Wasserman was found dead on her bed, just hours after spending time with her family.

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

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 

Officials in Dallas County are also investigating Chemirmir’s possible involvement in the death of Catherine Probst Sinclair at the Edgemere senor living facility in North Dallas in April 2016.

Her niece told the paper the family always believed her aunt had been killed, but she said police did not take their suspicions seriously.

The niece said there was blood on Sinclair’s pillow and a safe was missing from her apartment.

Chemirmir has been in custody since March 2018 for the killing of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris. Police in Plano were investigating Chemirmir in connection with suspicious death and suspicious person calls at a senior apartment complex in that Dallas suburb and found evidence linking him to Harris’ death in Dallas, authorities said. 

The break in the case came when Chemirmir forced his way into the Plano apartment of a 91-year-old woman that March, telling her to ‘go to bed. Don’t fight me,’ according to an arrest affidavit filed in Collin County. 

The woman was smothered with a pillow into unconsciousness and robbed. However, paramedics revived her and she told investigators that her attacker had stolen a box containing her jewelry. Police identified Chemirmir from a license plate number and were able to find and tail him days later, when they watched him throw a jewelry box into a trash bin. They traced the box to Harris, according to the affidavit.

Plano police Chief Gregory Rushin said at the time that Chemirmir used his experience as a home healthcare aide ‘to his advantage in targeting and exploiting seniors, some of the most vulnerable people in our community.’

In May 2019, he was charged with 11 other murders by smothering.

This past February, the Dallas County Grand Jury indicted Chemirmir on capital murder charges in the deaths of Leah Corken, 83, and Juanita Purdy, 82.

The two women also lived in The Tradition-Prestonwood and died suddenly in the summer of 2016.

Court documents alleged that Chemirmir smothered both women to death with a pillow.

In July 2019, the families of Purdy and Corken filed a lawsuit against The Tradition-Prestonwood, accusing the facility of failing to provide adequate security and repeatedly allowing an allegedly serial killer masquerading as a maintenance worker onto the premises.   

Phyllis Payne, 91

Norma French, 85

Chemirmir was previously charged with the murder of Phyllis Payne (left), 91, on May 14, 2016, and Norma French (right), 85, who was killed October 8, 2016


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