Texas alleged serial killer’s victims’ families push for death penalty

Marilyn Cardillo Bixler celebrated her 90th birthday with her family in Cabo San Lucas in August 2017, enjoying her first vacation outside the United States by toasting to the next decade of her life over strawberry margaritas. 

Two weeks later, Billy Chemirmir allegedly broke into her apartment at a retirement community in Frisco, Texas, then smothered her to death before fleeing with her jewelry. 

It was a pattern that played out in the Dallas-Fort Worth area from 2016 to 2018, with the accused serial killer racking up 22 murder indictments for allegedly preying on vulnerable senior citizens. He has been convicted in two of the cases and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

The families of Chemirmir’s victims are now left wondering how Chemirmir was able to get away with the brutal murders for so long, and uncomfortable with the fact that as it currently stands, one of the most notorious alleged serial killers in American history will spend the rest of his life behind bars instead of getting the death penalty. 

For Bixler’s daughter, Cheryl Pangburn, it wasn’t immediately clear that her mother was murdered when she found her on the floor of her apartment on Sept. 17, 2017. 

“I thought it was strange where her body was. I thought it was strange that her glasses were across the room with the frames bent and the lens popped out, so much so that I set them on the console of my car and took a picture. The back of her hair, which she had done every Friday, was an absolute mess and that just didn’t make sense to me,” Pangburn told Fox News Digital. 

Still, without any glaring signs of trauma, responding officers noted that she was on hypertension medication and a medical examiner marked her death as due to natural causes. 

When Pangburn received that message, Chemirmir’s spree of murders had just come to an end after he failed to kill 91-year-old Mary Bartel. 

Bartel, who lived at a retirement community in Plano, Texas, detailed in a deposition played at trial how a suspect forced his way into her apartment on the evening of March 19, 2018, and smothered her with a pillow until she lost consciousness. When she came to, she was taken to a hospital but later found that her gold wedding band, a diamond ring, a gold locket with a picture of her late husband inside, two gold crucifixes, and a silver bracelet had been stolen from her apartment. 

Detectives developed Chemimir as a suspect in the attempted murder of Bartel and started staking out his apartment the next day. Around 6:00 p.m., Chemirmir parked his car at his residence then threw some items in a dumpster. After the detectives arrested Chemirmir on an outstanding warrant, they looked inside the dumpster and found a jewelry box that belonged to 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris. 

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