A Kenyan man who formerly worked as a home health care worker is now on trial after police say he killed 18 women in the Dallas, Texas, area over a two-year period.
But prosecutors say he might have killed as many as 24 women — and potentially more beyond that.
Billy Chemirmir, 48, was arrested in 2018 after the smothering death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris in her home. Police say Harris’ death was discovered after another woman, 91-year-old Mary Bartel, survived an attempted smothering by a man alleged to be Chemirmir in the Dallas suburb of Plano, The Dallas Morning News reported.
In that attack, Bartel said a man matching the defendant’s description forced his way into her apartment at an assisted living facility and tried to suffocate her with a pillow. She survived, but her attacker, allegedly Chemirmir, made off with jewelry, according to the Associated Press.
During the attack, the accused allegedly told Bartel, “Go to bed. Don’t fight me,” the AP reported.
A trial has begun for a man charged with killing 18 older women in and around Dallas, and stealing jewelry and other valuables. Billy Chemirmir, 48, is being tried in one of the deaths. His attorney has called the evidence against him circumstantial. https://t.co/0ffSoHjga7
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 16, 2021
Law enforcement officials from Plano have stated that the attacks on Harris and Bartel match other killings where elderly women were victimized inside of their homes and had possessions stolen. Chemirmir was arrested at his north Dallas apartment in March 2018.
Police say they found evidence linking him to both Harris and Bartel during his arrest.
But soon after he was taken in, the suspicious deaths of other elderly women came to light, and detectives began looking at Chemirmir in those cases. The Associated Press reported that Leah Corken, 83, was found dead in her apartment in Dallas.
Corken was believed to have died of a stroke, but her daughter said she had doubts about that assessment.
Billy Chemirmir has been charged with killing 18 older women across the Dallas area over a two-year span. Most of the victims were killed at independent living communities for older people, where Chemirmir allegedly forced his way into apartments. https://t.co/CviNtyDV7L
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 12, 2021
The woman told the AP that on the night before her mother had died, her hair was well put together and they had enjoyed a movie and gone shopping. When her body was found, her hair was in disarray, and her makeup was found smudged on a pillow.
Her wedding ring was also missing.
“I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know,” M.J. Jennings told the AP. “I didn’t know it was murder.”
Prosecutors in Chemirmir’s murder trial, which began this week, say the deaths of more elderly women living at assisted living facilities were scrutinized. In each death, the victims shared something in common beyond age and gender.
Their jewelry and other valuables had been taken.
With the possibility that they might be dealing with a serial killer, police focused on hundreds of deaths. Eight of the women he is charged with killing all lived at the Tradition-Prestonwood Independent Living facility in Dallas. The other ten victims each resided in or north of Dallas.
One more death at the Tradition-Prestonwood facility is linked to Chemirmir, who was kicked off the property for alleged trespassing in 2016 after his release from jail on an unrelated matter. Prosecutors say he might have entered the homes of the victims by posing as a handyman, People Magazine reported.
The alleged killer faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The prosecution has declined to seek the death penalty, but more suspicious deaths are being probed.
Prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin, in his opening statement to jurors on Tuesday, said the defendant is guilty of “stalking, smothering and stealing,” according to the AP.
Attorneys for Chemirmir did not offer an opening statement, the Morning News reported. The defendant has denied any involvement in the slayings.
Chemirmir is originally from Kenya, but he has permanent legal resident status in the U.S.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.