Nov 15, 2021 - News
Accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir goes on trial
A brick sign that reads THE TRADITION
The independent living community where several suspicious deaths took place. Photo: Brandon Donner Photography for Axios

The capital murder trial for accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir is scheduled to begin today in Dallas.

  • Chemirmir, 48, is accused of smothering and robbing 18 elderly women in Dallas and Collin counties.

Why it matters: The slayings of elderly women in high-end independent living communities, including The Tradition-Prestonwood, continued unnoticed for nearly two years until Chemirmir was arrested in March 2018. The causes of death were initially labeled as natural.

  • Relatives of the women filed lawsuits against the living facilities and lobbied for legislation that increased oversight and security at senior communities, but most of those bills failed.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Marilyn's Law, which requires medical examiners to alert next of kin when a cause of death is changed on a death certificate.

  • The bill was named for Marilyn Bixler, whose death has been linked to Chemirmir though he hasn't been charged in her death.

Details: Chemirmir will be tried in one of the deaths — that of Lu Thi Harris — and faces an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole if convicted.

  • Dallas County prosecutors no longer intend to seek the death penalty for Chemirmir and instead plan to try him twice. If he's convicted, prosecutors plan to ask the judge to stack the sentences.

Timeline: Chemirmir was arrested in March 2018 after Harris' death, but he is accused in slayings dating back to May 2016.

  • His alleged victims are:
    • Phyllis Payne, 91, on May 14, 2016
    • Phoebe Perry, 94, on June 5, 2016
    • Joyce Abramowitz, 82, on July 20, 2016
    • Juanita Purdy, 83, on July 31, 2016
    • Leah Corken, 83, on Aug. 19, 2016
    • Margaret White, 87, on Aug. 28, 2016
    • Norma French, 85, on Oct. 8, 2016
    • Glenna Day, 87, on Oct. 15, 2016
    • Doris Gleason, 92, on Oct. 29, 2016
    • Minnie Campbell, 83, on Oct. 31, 2017
    • Doris Wasserman, 90, on Dec. 23, 2017
    • Carolyn MacPhee, 81, on Dec. 31, 2017
    • Rosemary Curtis, 76, on Jan. 17, 2018
    • Mary Brooks on Jan. 31, 2018
    • Martha Williams, 80, on March 4, 2018
    • Miriam Nelson, 81, on March 9, 2018
    • Ann Conklin, 82, on March 18, 2018
    • Lu Thi Harris, 81, on March 20, 2018
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