DALLAS (AP) — Lawsuits allege a Dallas man already charged in the deaths of 12 elderly women also killed six other elderly people, which would bring the victim total to 18.
The six lawsuits filed Tuesday in Dallas County accuse The Tradition-Prestonwood, an independent living facility in Dallas, of failing to keep residents safe and hiding suspicious circumstances surrounding deaths. The lawsuits filed on behalf of family members and advocates of the alleged additional victims say plaintiffs anticipate 46-year-old Billy Chemirmir will soon be indicted in the deaths of the five women and one man.
A Dallas County district attorney’s office spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Dallas police had no comment Wednesday. An attorney for Chemirmir did not immediately return a call for comment.
Chemirmir, a Kenyan citizen who was living in the U.S. illegally, has been in custody since March 2018 , when he was arrested in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris in Dallas. Last month he was charged in the deaths of 11 more elderly women. Authorities have said Chemirmir posed as a maintenance worker or health care provider, and that he stole jewelry and other valuables from his victims.
Two of the people Chemirmir is already charged with killing also lived at The Tradition. The lawsuits say the deaths of those two people and the six alleged additional victims were unexpected, and in most cases valuables were missing from their apartments. The lawsuits say those eight deaths at the independent living facility occurred in a four-month span in 2016.
The lawsuits say one of the alleged additional victims, an 87-year-old woman, told her daughter several times in the weeks before her death that she was uneasy because a lot of otherwise healthy people had unexpectedly died at the facility. The woman, who had gone dancing the night before her death, even mentioned that she should maybe move during a conversation with a friend.
The lawsuits say the woman and her family “did not know everything The Tradition knew, and so she stayed— at the ultimate cost.”
“Unimaginably, at no point in time during the string of murders and robberies does The Tradition share plainly relevant information with the families of the victims, the residents who are still in danger, or the police who were viewing each death through a skewed, incomplete lens due to The Tradition’s failure to disclose,” the lawsuits say.
The Tradition in a statement called the deaths “a true tragedy,” and added that it had relied on the investigations of police and other officials. The facility said “any death” was investigated by police and the Dallas County medical examiner’s office and had been attributed to natural causes. In two cases, it said, autopsies confirmed the people died of natural causes.
The facility said “those rulings stood for more than 27 months.”
The Tradition added that it cooperated with authorities and that its CEO did not withhold information.
The lawsuits also note that at one point before Chemirmir’s arrest on murder charges, he was “merely” escorted off the premises at The Tradition and asked not to come back.
Dave Wishnew, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said the families want accountability.
“If you are going to promise to provide exceptional, state-of-the-art safety and security to the most vulnerable people in our community — the elderly — then you have to fulfill those promises,” Wishnew said.
By JAMIE STENGLE
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