Families face man charged in killings of 22 elderly Texans

Oct 14, 2022, 1:07 AM | Updated: 2:23 pm
Ellen French House, center, daughter of victim Norma French, alongside her family members becomes e...

Ellen French House, center, daughter of victim Norma French, alongside her family members becomes emotional as she gives her victim impact statement in accused killer Billy Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7, in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

(Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

              Shannon Dion, right, daughter of victim Doris Gleason, gets emotional as she leans on her husband Eric Dion after their victim impact statement in accused killer Billy Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Karen Harris, front, daughter of victim Miriam Nelson, and her husband Cliff Harris reacts towards accused killer Billy Chemirmir while walking to the podium to deliver their victim impact statement in Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Loren Smith Adair, daughter of alleged victim Phyllis Payne embraces her husband, David Smith after victim impact statements in Billy Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Accused killer Billy Chemirmir listens to Dan Probst, left, nephew of alleged victim Catherine Probst Sinclair as he delivers his victim impact statement in Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              M.J. Jennings, right, daughter, with Sean Cullen, grandson of alleged victim Leah Corken, delivers a victim impact statement in accused killer Billy Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Karen Harris, center, daughter of victim Miriam Nelson, and her husband Cliff Harris, left, deliver their victim impact statement in accused killer Billy Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Portraits of the victims of Billy Chemirmir are displayed on chairs ahead of victim impact statements in Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Accused killer Billy Chemirmir, right, listens to victim impact statements alongside defense lawyer Kobby Warren during his trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Ellen French House, center, daughter of victim Norma French, alongside her family members becomes emotional as she gives her victim impact statement  in accused killer Billy Chemirmir's trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Chemirmir, charged with killing 22 elderly women in the Dallas area over a two-year span, was found guilty last Friday, Oct. 7,  in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

DALLAS (AP) — A week after the second conviction of a man charged in the deaths of 22 elderly women, family members of those he is accused of killing gathered at a Dallas courthouse Friday to face him.

In Ellen French House’s victim impact statement, she told Billy Chemirmir, who was wearing a striped jail uniform, that she wanted him to see two photos of her mother: one of Norma French alive, the other after the 85-year-old was killed.

“This is my beautiful mother,” House said as she displayed the first photo. “This is my mother after you pried her wedding ring off of her finger that she couldn’t even get off.”

For most of the families, Friday may be their only chance to face Chemirmir in a courthouse. After trying Chemirmir in two of the deaths and obtaining two sentences of life in prison without parole, Dallas County prosecutors have said they will dismiss their remaining 11 capital murder cases against him. Prosecutors in neighboring Collin County haven’t yet said if they will try any of their nine capital murder cases against him.

Chemirmir, 49, received his second sentence of life in prison without parole last Friday after being convicted of capital murder in the smothering death of 87-year-old Mary Brooks. He was already sentenced to life in prison without parole for an April conviction in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris.

Authorities say he preyed on older women, killing them and stealing their valuables. Time after time, their deaths were initially determined to be from natural causes, even as family members raised alarm bells about missing jewelry. He has been charged in deaths over a two-year span.

Loren Adair Smith told Chemirmir that at 91, her mother, Phyllis Payne, was still a “vibrant, active, loving, amazing woman” who was “still living a fabulous life” when she was killed.

“You stole my mom, my best friend,” Smith said. “And for what? A bit of jewelry? A bit of silver?”

She said she and her brother were convinced their mother would live to be 100. “We just wanted time, and you stole that time from us,” Smith said.

As the family members spoke, emotions ranged from forgiveness to anger to an expressed desire for Chemirmir, who has maintained his innocence, to confess. Several family members said they still have nightmares about the way their loved one died.

It was a woman’s survival of a March 2018 attack that set Chemirmir’s arrest in motion. Mary Annis Bartel, then 91, told police a man forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community for seniors, tried to smother her with a pillow and took her jewelry.

Police testified they found Chemirmir the next day in the parking lot of his apartment complex holding jewelry and cash, having just thrown away a large red jewelry box. Documents in the jewelry box led them to the home of Harris, who was found dead in her bedroom, lipstick smeared on her pillow.

Prosecutors presented evidence at Chemirmir’s trials that he and Harris had been at the same Walmart just hours before she was found dead.

After Chemirmir’s arrest, police across the Dallas area reexamined deaths, and the charges against him grew. Many of the victims’ children have said they were left perplexed by the deaths at the time, as their mothers, though older, were still healthy and active. Four indictments were added this summer.

Most of the victims lived in apartments at independent living communities for older people. One woman who lived in a private home was the widow of a man Chemirmir cared for while working as an at-home caregiver.

As the victims’ children began finding each other, they formed Secure Our Seniors’ Safety, which has worked to pass legislation surrounding the safety of older people.

Lindsey Watkins told Chemirmir that she was just 18 when she went to check on her grandmother, 82-year-old Helen Lee, after she didn’t show up for church and found her dead.

“What you’ll never understand is that her jewelry was the least valuable thing that you stole,” Watkins said. “Her life was worth just a few thousand dollars to you. But it was worth everything to me.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

arrest...
Associated Press

Police: Washington officer shot, wounded while making arrest

Pasco Police in southeast Washington state said one of their officers was shot and wounded Thursday afternoon while making an arrest.
17 hours ago
State hospital...
Associated Press

7 die from flu in Washington state, activity ‘very high’

Flu activity in the state is now considered very high, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
17 hours ago
FILE - Johnny Hincapie raises his fist as he leaves the courthouse in New York, Jan. 25, 2017. Atto...
Associated Press

Man to receive almost $18 million for wrongful NY conviction

A man who was freed in 2015 after spending a quarter-century in prison for an infamous tourist killing will receive nearly $18 million in legal settlements from the city and state of New York, his attorneys confirmed Friday. Lawyers for Johnny Hincapie said it marks one of the largest settlements for a wrongful conviction in […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Mamie King-Chalmers, woman in civil rights photo, dies at 81

DETROIT (AP) — Mamie King-Chalmers, who as a young Black woman appeared in an iconic photo about civil rights struggles in Alabama, has died at the age of 81. She died Tuesday in Detroit, her home since the 1970s, daughter Lasuria Allman said. A cause wasn’t disclosed. King-Chalmers, 21 at the time, was one of […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Dave Joyce, R-Ohio; Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu; Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass. __ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Reps. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., […]
17 hours ago
Rev. Paula Stecker of the Christ the King Lutheran Church tidies up a memorial outside Club Q follo...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What do we know about the Colorado bomb threat?

DENVER (AP) — More than a year before police say Anderson Lee Aldrich killed five people and wounded 17 others at a gay night club in Colorado Springs, Aldrich was arrested on allegations of making a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of about 10 homes. Aldrich, who uses the pronoun they and is […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Families face man charged in killings of 22 elderly Texans