Crime

Dallas man accused of killing 12 elderly women maintains he’s innocent, attorney says

A Dallas man who authorities believe killed 12 elderly women in the Dallas/Fort Worth area says he’s innocent and was surprised by his recent indictments on capital murder charges, his attorney said Thursday.

Billy Chemirmir, first accused of killing an 81-year-old woman in Dallas last year, was indicted on six additional capital murder charges in Dallas County this week. Officials with the district attorney’s office confirmed Thursday that he’s also been indicted in five capital murder cases in Collin County.

Police say Chemirmir posed as a caregiver or maintenance worker at senior living facilities in the Metroplex while killing and robbing women.

“I have just seen circumstantial evidence, but I haven’t seen all the evidence,” said Phillip Hayes of Dallas, Chemirmir’s attorney, in a telephone interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I had no idea as to the number. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.”

Hayes said he visited Chemirmir in the Dallas County Jail this week.

“He’s frustrated,” Hayes said. “He also seemed surprised with the indictments, but he is holding on to that he is innocent.”

Chemirmir also is charged with attempting to kill two other women in Frisco and Plano.

The names of the five victims in the Collin County murder cases haven’t been publicly released.

In Dallas County, he has been indicted in the deaths of these seven women:

  • Phyllis Payne, 91, on May 14, 2016
  • Phoebe Perry, 94, on June 5, 2016
  • Norma French, 85, on Oct. 8, 2016
  • Doris Gleason, 92, on Oct. 29, 2016
  • Rosemary Curtis, 76, on Jan. 19, 2018
  • Mary Brooks, 87, on Jan. 31, 2018
  • Lu Thi Harris, 81, on March 20, 2018.

Chemirmir has lived in the Dallas area for more than a decade, but court records note that he is a citizen of Kenya. Immigration authorities have placed a jail hold on him.

His bail has been set at more than $9 million.

Arrest record

Before his arrest in March 2018, Chemirmir had a criminal history in North Texas, according to Dallas and Addison police reports and Dallas County criminal court records.

He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and fined $1,250 in June 2011 for driving while intoxicated in Addison, court records showed. He had been arrested in December 2010 in Addison on the DWI case. Just months later, he was arrested again on a DWI charge in Dallas and later sentenced to 70 days on that charge, according to court records.

Chemirmir was in trouble again in 2012. Dallas police responded to a disturbance call shortly before 3 a.m. on July 29, 2012, in the 5700 block of Spring Valley Road.

Chemirmir’s girlfriend told Dallas police he had come home drunk from a strip club and the two argued. She later went to bed and tried to go to sleep, but Chemirmir came into the room and began punching her, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday.

He then grabbed a small pot and hit her in the back of the head with it, Dallas police said in the warrant. He also kicked her in the back.

Chemirmir stopped the assault, but he started cutting a couch with a knife, according to the warrant. His girlfriend called 911 and he was later arrested.

Chemirmir posted bail, and waited for years for his trial on the assault.

Before that occurred, Chemirmir was taken into custody in June 2016 and charged with criminal trespass. He had entered and remained in the Edgemere Retirement Community in Dallas without permission, according to Dallas police reports. He also was charged with failing to identify himself.

One of the women who was killed, Phyllis Payne, lived at Edgemere, according to an obituary and a lawsuit filed by her family that was settled .

Chris Santuae, Edgemere’s executive director, said in a written statement Thursday, “We abhor the breadth of allegations against Mr. Chemirmir in senior living communities throughout Dallas and North Texas, and we offer our deepest condolences to the families and the many others impacted by his senseless actions. We’re hopeful these recent indictments are the first step toward justice, and we’re grateful these proceedings will deliver a small measure of comfort and closure to those affected.”

On June 28, 2016, Chemirmir pleaded no contest on his 2012 assault charge, the criminal trespass case and failing to identify himself. He was sentenced to 70 days in jail and fined $2,000, according to court records.

Work history

Chemirmir had been known to use the name “Benjamin Koitaba” when finding work. A woman who said she worked with him in Dallas told the Star-Telegram that Chemirmir used his cousin’s name and Social Security number when applying for jobs.

Chemirmir — who police said would also impersonate maintenance personnel at retirement communities in Dallas — isn’t a licensed nurse in Texas or anywhere in the U.S., according to records.

According to the former coworker, Chemirmir worked for three years at the now-closed Care Assist Solutions, which was a company that contracted caregivers.

The Star-Telegram attempted to reach the former owners of the business, but calls were not returned on Wednesday or Thursday. The company went out of business last fall, a former employee said.

Serial killer profiles

Enzo Yaksic, co-founder of the Atypical Homicide Research Group, which specializes in using data to understand serial homicide offenders, said that according to the group’s data, 2 percent of serial murderers target the elderly.

“Of those offenders, 63 percent committed a home invasion against the elderly for the purposes of obtaining items through burglary,” he said. “Chemirmir fits the serial killer profile in that he enacted a ruse of posing as a caregiver specifically to place himself in a better position to take advantage of the elderly, a vulnerable population that often live alone and are not always closely monitored.”

Yaksic said that serial killers most often con potential victims into the belief that they’re good people in order to gain closer access to them.

As law enforcement and local medical examiners dig through about 750 elderly deaths in an attempt to find more possible victims, Yaksic thinks there are more.

“The scope of Chemirmir’s crimes is probably vast since he became adept at breaking into residences undetected or appearing to belong there to perform maintenance knowing that he would be overlooked,” Yaksic said.

This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.
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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.
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