United by grief, the families of several North Texas women found murdered in their homes, have formed a group to advocate for senior safety.
All of the families have loved ones believed to have been murdered by suspected serial killer Billy Chemirmir.
Called ‘Securing Our Seniors Safety’ the group is backing several bipartisan bills in the Texas legislature that address senior-living facilities and property crimes.
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They hope to prevent other families from knowing their pain.
“As we found each other we didn’t want other families to go through this either,” said Shannon Gleason Dion, who lost her mother and helped start the organization.
Doris Gleason, 92, was found dead inside her room at The Tradition-Prestonwood in 2016. At first, Dion was told her mother died of natural causes. Two years later police determined Gleason had been smothered to death.
“Those are horrible words to hear about your mother,” Dion said. “And then knowing from prior research there had been other criminal activity in the building months before and had no idea of it.”
Police said Billy Chemirmir often posed as a maintenance worker to gain access to women at senior-living facilities, murdered them and stole their belongings. Chemirmir faces 18 counts of capital murder for deaths between 2016 and 2018. Police have said he may be responsible for even more deaths.
Dion said the legislation they are backing hope to address some of the issues they’ve uncovered while researching their loved one’s murder.
The various bills address safety inside senior-living communities. One creates a voluntary safety certification program to encourage safe practices like background checks for employees. Another bill would make facilities liable for negligent deaths.
Other bills address enforcing current laws for cash-for-gold businesses, which is where police said Chemirmir sold stolen jewelry.
“If we would have had these [laws] in place it wouldn’t have happened,” said Cowboys Hall of Famer Cliff Harris, who lost his mother-in-law Miriam Nelson.
Nelson, 81, died inside her home at Preston Place in Plano in March of 2018.
Harris called the legislation “common sense” and said he will be doing everything he can to see these bills passed in the Texas legislature.
“I’m hoping when these laws are enacted my wife and all of these other ladies who lost their mothers – I’m hoping it will bring some peace to their hearts,” said Harris.