The families of three elderly women who were murdered by an accused Texas serial killer have filed wrongful death lawsuits against senior-living communities in the Dallas area, accusing the facilities of failing to protect their loved ones from Billy Chemirmir. A series of explosive new lawsuits claim that The Tradition – Prestonwood and The Edgemere, two assisted-living facilities in Dallas, served as unwitting hunting grounds for a mass murderer who smothered his elderly victims with pillows before stealing their prized possessions. The communities have declined to comment on active litigation.
Billy Chemirmir is accused of murdering at least 12 elderly women in Dallas and Collin counties. Chemirmir has been held in the Dallas County Jail since March 2018, when prosecutors first leveled allegations that the Kenyan citizen attempted to kill two women in Collin County and smothered an 81-year-old grandmother in her Dallas residence.
Grand juries for Dallas and Collins counties indicted Chemirmir on 11 additional counts of capital murder. The indictment lists twelve victims, all between the ages of 75 and 94, who jurors say were murdered in Dallas, Plano, and Richardson. But the families of Norma French, Doris Gleason, and Phyllis Payne didn’t wait for prosecutors to charge Chemirmir in their loved one’s deaths. Children of the three victims have already filed suit against their loved ones’ respective assisted-living facilities, claiming the centers enabled Chemirmir’s alleged crimes through negligence.
Chemirmir maintains his innocence in the killings. Phillip Hayes, the defendant’s attorney, told reporters at the Dallas News that his client was “surprised” by the indictments, “but he is holding on to that he is innocent.” Even so, detectives have linked the man to twelve previously unexplained deaths. Prosecutors say Chemirmir was able to evade existing defenses at residential complexes and senior-living communities by posing as a healthcare worker or maintenance man.
Norma French and Doris Gleason were both found dead in their apartments at the Tradition – Prestonwood, a senior living community in Dallas. In one of the lawsuits, the surviving family of Norma French accuses The Tradition – Prestonwood of failing to protect their mother from a dangerous criminal predator. Calling the security at the Tradition – Prestonwood “wholly inadequate,” Michael French, Ellen French House and Laurie French Carter claim the community should have known that Chemirmir was prowling the grounds of The Tradition and other senior communities in the Dallas area.
Even more explosive are claims that The Tradition – Prestonwood was aware that Chemirmir, the alleged attacker, had been posing as a maintenance worker in order to gain access to the community’s apartments. Gene Egdorf, an attorney for the French family, says the death of Norma French was “completely avoidable.” The family has filed their lawsuit in hopes that other families won’t be forced to suffer in the way that they have, according to Egdorf.
The French family argues that officials at The Tradition – Prestonwood should have been aware of a series of suspicious deaths at their facility. Prosecutors say Chemirmir murdered his victims by smothering them with a pillow.
Doris Gleason was found dead in her apartment at the Tradition only a few weeks after the death of Norma French. Like the French, Gleason’s daughter, Shannon Gleason Dion, has also filed suit against the apartment community, arguing that the facility should have done more to prevent her mother’s death.
A third lawsuit tied to the killings has already been settled. In September 2018, The Edgemere – a senior living complex on West Northwest Highway – settled a claim brought by the family of Phyllis Payne, who was murdered on May 14, 2016. In their lawsuit, Payne’s surviving loved ones accused The Edgemere of negligence, claiming the facility promised 24/7 security but still allowed Chemirmir access to the property where he murdered and stole from his victims.