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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Convicted murderer Billy Chemirmir killed in prison by his cellmate, officials say

Billy Chemirmir looks back ahead of his re-trial on April 25, 2022, at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas.   (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)
By Jamie Landers and Lana Ferguson The Dallas Morning News

Billy Chemirmir, a convicted murderer accused of killing about two dozen elderly women and one man across North Texas, was killed by his cellmate in a state prison Tuesday morning, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed to the Dallas Morning News.

Chemirmir, 50, was convicted by Dallas County juries last year in the 2018 slayings of two women and was given two life sentences. He had been indicted on 22 capital murder charges: 13 in Dallas County and nine in Collin County.

The Collin County district attorney’s office announced last month it would not be seeking the death penalty.

Hannah Haney, a spokeswoman for the TDCJ, said Chemirmir was found dead in his cell Tuesday at the Coffield unit in Tennessee Colony, about 85 miles southeast of Dallas.

Haney said his cellmate, who is serving a sentence for murder out of Dallas County, was the assailant. The cellmate’s name was not released.

The Office of Inspector General is investigating, and no additional details were immediately available.

Authorities believe Chemirmir, a former senior-living caregiver, began his killing spree in April 2016. Prosecutors have said he targeted elderly women, stole their jewelry and sold it to make a living.

According to court records, he was accused of killing at least three women at Dallas’ high-end Edgemere community and at least nine people at The Tradition-Prestonwood in Far North Dallas. Many of the victims’ deaths initially appeared to be from natural causes, prosecutors said.

Chemirmir was arrested the day after an elderly woman, Mary Bartel, survived an attack at Plano’s Preston Place Retirement Community in March 2018 and reported that she was missing her jewelry.

Chemirmir maintained his innocence throughout the trials. In March 2022, he told The News he was “100% sure” he would not go to prison.

“I am not a killer,” Chemirmir told The News. “I’m not at all what they’re saying I am. I am a very innocent person. I was not brought [up] that way. I was brought [up] in a good family. I didn’t have any problems all my life.”

Earlier this month, Texas implemented a statewide lockdown of its 98 correctional facilities to combat an increase in “dangerous contraband” and killings behind bars.

In a statement, the department said it would limit the movement of inmates, in addition to their contact with people outside the facilities. The department said inmates and staff would also undergo “intensified” searches to intercept contraband, including the deployment of specialized search teams and narcotic dogs.

As of noon Monday, nearly 70 facilities had resumed normal operations. The Coffield unit was still on lockdown.