Inmate Accused of Killing 22 Elderly Women Found Dead in Texas Prison Cell

by Michael Nguyen
Inmate-on-inmate homicide

An inmate in a Texas prison, who had been accused of murdering 22 elderly women to steal their valuables, was killed by his cellmate while serving a life sentence, according to prison authorities.

Billy Chemirmir, aged 50, was convicted in the previous year for the murders of two women and was serving his sentence in a correctional facility in rural East Texas. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Hannah Haney confirmed that Chemirmir was found deceased in his cell. His cellmate, also serving time for murder, is believed to be responsible for his death.

This event occurred approximately two weeks after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice imposed a rare statewide lockdown on its 100 prisons due to an increase in homicides within these facilities. Officials have attributed this rise in killings to drug-related issues.

The department did not disclose further details about the cellmate responsible, the manner of Chemirmir’s death, or any potential motives.

Relatives of Chemirmir’s alleged victims responded to the news with a mixture of shock and relief. Shannon Dion, whose 92-year-old mother, Doris Gleason, was one of the women Chemirmir was accused of killing, expressed some relief at a press conference, stating, “My mother died in fear. This man did not.”

Initially, the string of deaths in Dallas and adjacent cities had been attributed to natural causes, despite concerns raised by family members about missing jewelry and other valuables. Chemirmir was arrested in 2018 after a 91-year-old woman survived an attack and informed the police. He was subsequently found in possession of jewelry and cash.

Following his arrest, local law enforcement re-examined earlier deaths, leading to additional charges against him. Despite the fact that many of the victims were elderly, their families noted that they were generally in good health prior to their deaths.

Chemirmir faced his first capital murder trial in Dallas County for the death of Lu Thi Harris, which ended in a mistrial. He was later convicted in a retrial and subsequently found guilty in the killing of Mary Brooks, aged 87. Families of the alleged victims later confronted him in a Dallas courtroom, displaying photos and demanding accountability.

Most of his purported victims resided in senior living communities, although one lived in a private residence. She was the widow of a man for whom Chemirmir had provided at-home care.

Charged with 22 counts of capital murder—13 in Dallas County and nine in neighboring Collin County—Chemirmir was serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, situated about 100 miles southeast of Dallas. Prosecutors had opted not to pursue the death penalty.

Phillip Hayes, Chemirmir’s attorney, described his client’s death as “an awful tragedy.”

Earlier this month, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had announced measures to combat an increase in contraband and drug-related inmate killings. By the time of this announcement on September 6, 16 inmate-on-inmate homicides had been recorded this year. Enhanced security measures were introduced, including stricter searches of inmates and staff.

As of the most recent update, 75 prison units have resumed regular operations after the lockdown, while the Coffield Unit, where Chemirmir was incarcerated, is among 25 still under lockdown. The Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation into Chemirmir’s death.

This report has been updated to clarify that Chemirmir had been indicted for the deaths of 22 women, not 18 as previously stated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Inmate-on-inmate homicide

What was Billy Chemirmir accused of?

Billy Chemirmir was accused of murdering 22 older women over two years, with allegations of preying on them to steal jewelry and other valuables.

How did Billy Chemirmir die?

Billy Chemirmir was found dead in his prison cell. He was reportedly killed by his cellmate while serving a life sentence.

Why were Texas prisons placed on lockdown?

Texas prisons were placed on lockdown due to a recent increase in inmate-on-inmate homicides, which officials linked to drug-related issues.

Were all of Billy Chemirmir’s alleged victims initially thought to have died from natural causes?

Yes, initially, the deaths of many of Chemirmir’s alleged victims in Dallas and nearby areas were determined to be from natural causes, despite concerns raised by their families about missing jewelry.

What charges did Billy Chemirmir face, and what was his sentence?

Billy Chemirmir was indicted on 22 counts of capital murder, with 13 charges in Dallas County and nine in Collin County. He was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

What is the current status of Texas prisons following the lockdown?

As of the most recent update, 75 prison units have resumed normal operations after the lockdown, while 25 units, including the Coffield Unit where Chemirmir was imprisoned, remain under lockdown.

Who is investigating Billy Chemirmir’s death?

The Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Billy Chemirmir’s death in prison.

More about Inmate-on-inmate homicide

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PoliticAficionado September 20, 2023 - 3:17 pm

politics & crime, makes ya think ’bout the system. hope those affected find some peace.

FinanceWhizKid September 20, 2023 - 9:52 pm

valuables and murder, a grim mix. but, justice served?


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