Man on Trial For Murder of 18 Elderly Women Told Detectives 'I've Never Murdered Anybody'

Billy Chemirmir, on trial for the murder of 18 elderly women, told detectives, "I've never killed anybody."

Chemirmir is accused of capital murder in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris. He faces a life sentence without parole if convicted. Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty.

On Wednesday, prosecutors showed a taped interview of Chemirmir telling a police detective that less than an hour before his arrest, a man whose name he didn't know sold him jewelry, The Associated Press reported. A relative previously testified that the jewelry belonged to a woman Chemirmir is accused of killing.

"It just doesn't make any sense, what you're telling me," Dallas Detective Brian Tabor told Chemirmir in the interview.

Chemirmir continuously denied killing Harris or going to her home in the interview with Tabor, who is now retired.

After 91-year-old Mary Annis Bartel lived through an attack at her apartment at an independent living community for seniors in Plano, Chemirmir was arrested in March 2018.

Police tracked him to his apartment nearby where he was found holding cash and jewelry. Documents discovered in a large red jewelry box police say Chemirmir threw away brought them to a Dallas home, where Harris was found dead in her bedroom with lipstick smeared on her pillow.

Chemirmir told Tabor he made money by buying and selling jewelry and also previously worked as a security guard and an at-home caregiver.

Chemirmir said he usually bought jewelry online. However, Chemirmir claimed the jewelry he purchased from the unnamed man was obtained in person.

"He came to my apartment, 20 minutes before I was arrested," Chemirmir said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Brian Tabor, Billy Chemirmir
Brian Tabor, lead detective on the case, watches his interrogation video of defendant Billy Chemirmir during the capital murder trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. "I've never murdered anybody," Chemirmir told detectives. Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool

Chemirmir said he got what he wanted from the jewelry box and then threw the box away because he didn't want it.

When Tabor asks the man's name, Chemirmir replied: "He didn't tell me."

Harris' son-in-law, Richard Rinehart, testified Tuesday that the discarded jewelry box belonged to his mother-in-law, as did numerous pieces of jewelry that officers found as they arrested Chemirmir.

Tabor testified in court Wednesday that Chemirmir "struggled for the details of who he met, how much he paid for the jewelry box."

Jurors also saw surveillance video from a Walmart showing that Harris and Chemirmir were at the store at the same time, just hours before she was found dead. Chemirmir told the detective that he had been at the Walmart.

Evidence presented at trial has shown that Chemirmir was also in possession of numerous $2 bills at the time. Rinehart testified Tuesday that his mother-in-law loved giving them as gifts. Chemirmir said on the tape that he had bought the $2 bills in Fort Worth a few days earlier.

Police have also said that a set of keys found with Chemirmir when he was arrested opened the front doors of Harris' home.

Following Chemirmir's arrest, authorities announced they would review hundreds of deaths, signaling the possibility that a serial killer had been stalking older people. Over the following years, the number of people Chemirmir was accused of killing grew.

Most of the victims were killed at independent living communities for older people, where Chemirmir allegedly forced his way into apartments or posed as a handyman. He's also accused of killing women in private homes, including the widow of a man he had cared for in his job as an at-home caregiver.

The defense did not make an opening statement. Chemirmir's attorney says the evidence against Chemirmir is circumstantial.

Billy Chemirmir, Glen Fitzmartin, Capital Murder
Prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin pins a photo of defendant Billy Chemirmir on a large map alongside victim Lu Thi Harris at a local Walmart during the murder trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. "I've never killed anybody," Chemirmir told detectives. Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool