Billy Chemirmir, Suspected Serial Killer Accused of Murdering 22 Elderly Women, Killed in Texas Prison

Convicted murderer Billy Chemirmir, 50, was found dead in his jail cell at a Texas state prison Tuesday morning, officials confirm to PEOPLE

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP Billy Chemirmir
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP Billy Chemirmir

Billy Chemirmir, a convicted murderer who was suspected of killing more than 20 elderly women over the course of two years, was killed in prison this week, PEOPLE has confirmed.

Chemirmir, 50, was found dead in his jail cell at a Texas state prison Tuesday morning, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice wrote in a statement to PEOPLE.

He was serving a life sentence without parole for two counts of capital murder at Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, Texas.

TDCJ said Chemirmir’s cellmate, who is currently serving a murder sentence, has been identified as the "assailant." Officials did not release the cellmate’s name or share Chemirmir’s cause of death.

Related: Police Thought Deaths of 22 Seniors Were from Natural Causes — But Now They Suspect a Serial Killer

Chemirmir has been accused of killing 22 elderly women in Dallas and Collin Counties between 2016 and 2018, PEOPLE previously reported.

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An investigation into Chemirmir began in March 2018 when Mary Bartel, who was 91 years old at the time, says she survived one of his alleged attacks, PEOPLE previously reported. She told police that Chemirmir, who was a former health care worker, forced his way into her apartment at a senior living center and smothered her with a pillow. He took off with her jewelry after she passed out.

Related: Man Accused of Killing 22 Elderly Texans to Stand Trial in Dallas for Murder

Chemirmir was spotted by police the day after Bartel's attack in the parking lot of his apartment complex holding jewelry and cash. He had thrown a red jewelry box away which contained documents that led Dallas police to the home of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris, who, according to CBS, was found dead in her bedroom with lipstick smeared on her pillow.

Most of Chemirmir's alleged victims were killed in the same manner, with the former healthcare worker allegedly forcing his way into apartments of seniors living in an independent community center, or entering their homes under the guise of being a maintenance worker.

"Chemirmir used his healthcare experience to his advantage, targeting and exploiting seniors, some of the most vulnerable people in our community," then-Plano police chief Gregory W. Rushin said in a March 2018 press conference. "This is terribly disturbing."

In April 2022, Chemirmir was convicted of capital murder in the smothering death of Harris, according to NBC News, CBS News and WFAA. Soon after, he was found guilty of killing 87-year-old Mary Brooks.

Chemirmir was not tried in the other alleged murder cases.

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