Paramount+ documentary explores Texas serial murders of 22 elderly women

Pillowcase Murders
Credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Billy Chemirmir was a felon convicted of the murders of two senior citizens and was suspected of slaying about 20 more people. A Paramount+ docuseries, titled ‘Pillowcase Murders’, chronicling the murders of Chemirmir was recently released on 14 May. The docuseries was released just shy of a year after Chemirmir was murdered by his cellmate in 2023.

Pillowcase Murders | Paramount+ Official Trailer

According to Fox News Digital, authorities discovered that Chemirmir’s killing spree spanned two whole years, and he used his job description of a caregiver as a disguise to enter into elderly care facilities and conduct his deeds. He would smother the elderly women, mostly in their sleep, and steal their valuables.

With time, he realized that it was impossible to detect foul play when it came to death by asphyxiation in the elderly, most probably because the doctors always ruled it out as death from natural causes, and their families never suspected anything untoward.

Pillowcase Murders Ch
Credit: The Dallas Morning News

If it wasn’t for the one woman who survived Chemirmir’s murder attempt, he would still be on a killing and theft rampage. But things altered when in March of 2018, a 91-year-old woman named Mary Bartel came forth to the police that the suspect forced his way into her assisted living space, attempted to smother her with a pillow, and stole her jewellery.

It was a miracle that she only fell unconscious and survived. According to the contents of the documentary, Chermirmir was identified as a prime suspect in the case and was arrested the very next day when they discovered the suspected murderer was in the parking lot of his apartment complex while he held jewelry and cash, having just thrown a large red jewelry box into a dumpster.

The box contained documents that led them to Lu Thi Harris, 81, an elderly woman whom Chermirmir murdered, Fox News had earlier reported. The outlet also reported that Harris had red lipstick smudged across her lips and also on her pillowcase, which gave the impression that she had been smothered. Upon finding this distant link, Chemirmir became a person of interest in several other murders of elderly women. As the case gained recognition across the states, more families came forth to confess their mother’s deaths.

Pillowcase Murders Che
Credit: The Dallas Morning News

At Chermirmir’s trial, Bartel, the woman who survived his attack testified that he had stolen her gold wedding band, a diamond gold ring, a gold locket with a picture of her late husband, two gold crucifixes, and a silver bracelet. NBCDFW reported earlier that the trial ended with a tie-in vote of the jury. But in April 2022, Chemirmir was convicted of murder in Harris’ death, then was convicted in a separate case in the death of 87-year-old Mary Brooks.

Moments before his murder conviction, Chemirmir confessed to The Dallas Morning News, “I am not a killer,” adding, “I’m not at all what they’re saying I am. I am a very innocent person. I was not brought (up) that way. I was brought (up) in a good family. I didn’t have any problems all my life… I am 100 percent sure I will not go to prison.” He instead justified by saying that he was at the wrong place where the “natural deaths” were taking place, and it was not him. He said, “If I was a killer, I could’ve killed all those ladies,” adding, “Nobody has been killed there.”

Fox News Digital previously reported that Chemirmir was given life imprisonment and sent to Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, located about 100 miles southeast of Dallas, where prosecutors dismissed 20 more capital murder charges against Chemirmir, prompting his alleged victims’ families to hold a demonstration. The families of the victims were distraught that he was not given the death penalty in Dallas, but they hoped Collin County would not forgo his punishment.

Billy Chemirmir, convicted murderer, suspected killer of 22 elderly women, killed in prison

However, Chemirmir was beaten to death by his cellmate Wyatt Busby in September of 2023, according to WFAA. Chemirmir allegedly made inappropriate comments about Busby’s children that made him carry out the act.