US

Lawsuit: Man Linked to 19 Deaths Killed Another Woman

By The Associated Press

DALLAS—A lawsuit alleges a 90-year-old woman is another victim of a Dallas man who has been linked to 19 deaths.

The suit was filed on Monday, July 22, in Dallas County against The Tradition-Prestonwood, an independent living facility in Dallas, by the woman’s children. It alleges the facility failed to keep residents safe.

According to the lawsuit, police told the woman’s family that tracking data confirmed Billy Chemirmir was at the facility on the day of her 2017 death.

Chemirmir, a Kenyan citizen who was living in the U.S. illegally, has been in custody since March 2018, when he was arrested in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris in Dallas.

Last month he was charged in the deaths of 11 more elderly women. Authorities have said Chemirmir posed as a maintenance worker or health care provider, and that he stole jewelry and other valuables from his victims.

Separate lawsuits filed last month claim there were six additional victims at the facility.

The Tradition says it has cooperated with authorities and will continue to do so.

Entered The U.S. Illegally

Kenyan national Chemirmir came to the United States on a tourist visa in July 2003, law enforcement sources told Breitbart News. He overstayed his visa and was not deported. Instead, he obtained a green card in November 2007 by marrying a U.S. citizen.

Chemirmir’s criminal record includes convictions for drunk driving, trespassing, assault, and obstructing a police officer, according to Breitbart.

‘Exploited The Most Vulnerable People’

“Chemirmir used health care experience to his advantage in targeting and exploiting seniors, some of the most vulnerable people in our community. This is terribly disturbing,” Plano Police Chief Gregory Rushin said.

Dallas police reviewed about 750 unattended deaths of elderly women for possible links, said David Pughes, the Dallas Police Department executive first assistant chief.

“It will be a monumental task, but we’re up to the challenge. And we’re gonna make sure that we check each and every case.”

An arrest affidavit in March 2018, says Chemirmir forced his way into a Plano apartment of a 91-year-old woman, telling her to “go to bed. Don’t fight me.”

The woman was smothered with a pillow into unconsciousness and robbed. However, Plano 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 in March 2018, when they watched him throw a jewelry box into a trash bin. They traced the box to Harris, according to the affidavit.

Chemirmir already had been wanted in an attempted capital murder case in nearby Frisco, where he was accused of forcing his way into the home of a 93-year-old woman, using a pillow to smother her and stealing her jewelry, according to the warrant. The woman survived.

“We believe that the way that these crimes were committed, that when you’re a senior and you have health are issues, and you’re living by yourself and then you do become deceased, that many people would think right away that’s natural causes,” Rushin said. “There is not a deep investigation into those matters, so it would be very easy to disguise a crime in that type of activity.”

Victim’s Friend Remembers

Phoebe Perry, one of the women allegedly killed by Chemirmir, was a giving person who loved to help homeless animals in Dallas-Fort Worth, her friends said.

She helped the SPCA obtain 30 acres in 1997 to build the Russell H. Perry Animal Care Center, which is named after her husband.

“It is almost impossible to give you an estimate on how much she did for animals,” SPCA spokeswoman Maura Davies told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I can attempt to estimate they helped tens of thousands of animals lead better lives. Maybe even hundreds of thousands.”

“That entire location, everything we’ve been able to do is a testament to her life and her husband’s life,” said Davies, who called herself a longtime friend of the older woman.

“I wish I had been able to know her more. She was a gentle soul. She was an exceptionally kind woman. She had a very quiet voice, but she could command the presence of a room full of people. She had tremendous visions for how the SPCA of Texas could help animals.”

According to an obituary for Rosemary Curtis, another woman allegedly murdered by Chemirmir, “she was loved and respected by so many family and friends for her unwavering kindness, generosity, and enthusiastic passion for others.”

Curtis was married for 49 years until her husband passed away in 2017. She had children and grandchildren and was devoted to her family.

“Rosemary was passionate about so many things, and it was to these passions that she gave her total devotion,” the obituary added, including being a grade school teacher, a volunteer ESL teacher, and a tutor.

NTD News reporter Colin Fredercison and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.