A Texas retirement community is facing two new lawsuits — each seeking more than $1 million — from the adult children of two former residents, who assert the community didn’t do enough to protect their mothers from a man now indicted in the deaths of 12 older adults, most of whom were female senior living residents.
The alleged incidents have spurred some family members to press state legislators for increased regulation of independent living communities, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Twenty-two deaths now have been linked publicly to Billy Chemirmir, although he has not been indicted in all of the cases, the newspaper reported. As McKnight’s Senior Living previously reported, police believe Chemirmir posed as a maintenance worker to gain access to seniors’ living quarters and then suffocated them and stole jewelry and other items. Most of the deaths originally were ruled to have been of natural causes until one potential victim survived and described the attack to police.
Chemirmir has been in the Dallas County Jail since March 2018.
The two new lawsuits were filed Tuesday against Preston Place Retirement Community in Plano, TX, where seven of the suspected murders occurred. The community changed management in February 2018, during the time the alleged spree was taking place.
In a prepared statement to the newspaper, community representatives said that it would “not be appropriate to discuss this matter.”
“It is important to remember that Billy Chemirmir is the person law enforcement agencies believe is responsible for these horrible crimes. We have assisted police and prosecutors with their investigation and will continue to provide information and support as requested. In addition, we continue to offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to every family affected by these senseless acts,” the statement said.
Named as defendants in the lawsuits, obtained by McKnight’s Senior Living, are several companies associated with the ownership and management of the property during the time when the alleged incidents occurred, from October 2017 to March 2018.
Other defendants had not responded to the newspaper by the production deadline, according to the media outlet. Crawford Wishnew Lang, the Dallas law firm representing the families in the new lawsuits, has represented 13 families of the older adults and has assisted with several other cases involving the senior living communities where Chemirmir’s suspected victims lived, attorney Trey Crawford told McKnight’s Senior Living.
The new lawsuits were brought by family members of Miriam Nelson, 81, mother-in-law of former Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris, who died Dec. 8, 2017, and Ann Conklin, 82, who died March 18, 2018. Chemirmir previously was indicted in their deaths.
The complaints allege that the retirement community was misrepresented as a safe place to live and that security gates malfunctioned, security cameras were inadequate, resident requests for increased security were not addressed, and that the community did not take action, including communicating to residents that thefts had occurred and that Chemirmir was believed to have trespassed on the property before.
Some families of Chemirmir’s alleged victims have started a nonprofit organization, Secure Our Seniors Safety, and are working with Texas lawmakers “to push for better laws regulating independent living security,” according to the newspaper.
See this link for McKnight’s Senior Living’s previous coverage.