jail cell
(Photo credit: FrankvandenBergh / Getty Images)

Convicted killer Billy Chemirmir, sentenced for two murders and suspected in the deaths of more than 24 older adults in Texas, most of whom were women residents of senior living communities, was murdered Tuesday morning by his cellmate, according to media reports.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office reported that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said that Chemirmir was found dead in his cell at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, two hours southeast of Dallas. Chemirmir’s cellmate, also serving a sentence for murder, was identified as Chemirmir’s killer. Officials did not release the cellmate’s name or details surrounding Chemirmir’s death.

The families of Chemirmir’s victims were notified of his death on Tuesday.

Just last month, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced that he would not seek the death penalty for Chemirmir, saying that his previous murder convictions would keep him behind bars for life.

Chemirmir was arrested in 2018 following an attack on an independent living community resident, leading police to jewelry and other valuables belonging to other alleged victims. 

Chemiirmir received two capital murder convictions in 2022 in Dallas County related to the deaths of Mary Brooks, an independent living community resident, and Lu Thi Harris, an older adult found dead in her home. In each case, he was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. Prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty in either case.

Dallas County District Attorney John Cruezot said last fall that his office would dismiss the remaining 11 capital murder cases against Chemirmir in the county, saying that Chemirmir would “die in the penitentiary.” 

Chemirmir was thought to be linked to at least 24 deaths — mostly of female residents of senior living communities — that took place in Texas between April 2016 and March 2018. Authorities said he posed as a maintenance worker to gain access to residences and then smothered the older adults before stealing their valuables. Many of the deaths were attributed to natural causes until one woman survived and helped police with their investigation.

Along with lawsuits from victims’ families maintaining that senior living operators did not do enough to protect residents, a bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers previously introduced several bills in response to the series of suspected murders thought to be tied to Chemirmir.  

So far, only one has been signed into law — SB 1132, filed by state Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas), regulating precious metal dealers, including cash-for-gold and pawn shops, where Chemirmir sold the jewelry he allegedly stole.