What you need to know:
- Billy Kipkorir Chemirmir, 48, on Monday began trial for the third murder out of 22 that he is accused of committing over a two-year period between 2016 and 2018 in the state of Texas.
- All his victims were elderly people living in Cheshire homes or in private homes where he posed as a home caregiver or a technician sent to repair an appliance.
- Those who were unlucky enough to open the door for him were robbed of their jewellery before being suffocated using a pillow.
Kabunyony village in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County, is a sleepy rural centre on the edge of Mesegon forest that is not only so unknown you can barely find any news about it on Kenyan media but is also the last place you can expect to find a serial killer.
Yet thousands of kilometres across the world in the United States, prosecutors have this week begun one of the most publicised bizarre murder cases to be witnessed in the world’s most powerful nation that strangely enough involves a son of Kabunyony who flew there to chase the American dream.
Billy Kipkorir Chemirmir, 48, on Monday began trial for the third murder out of 22 that he is accused of committing over a two-year period between 2016 and 2018 in the state of Texas.
If convicted, the Kenyan who is already serving a life sentence after being found guilty in April for one of the murders will get another life sentence without parole as he waits for his other trials.
What is baffling investigators, prosecutors and the citizens of America, however, is not how he was able to carry out such a large scale of murders undetected within the same vicinity, but his choice of victims and the method he was using to kill them.
All his victims were elderly people living in Cheshire homes or in private homes where he posed as a home caregiver or a technician sent to repair an appliance.
Those who were unlucky enough to open the door for him were robbed of their jewellery before being suffocated using a pillow.
The relatives of the victims, after failing to find them on phone for days, would assume that their loved ones had died naturally of old age since there were no signs of strangulation or forced entry into their homes.
By this time, Chemirmir, who was ironically airlifted by his sister to work as a home care nurse, taking care of the elderly, before discovering he could make more money from stealing their jewellery and killing them to conceal evidence, would be long gone and probably looking for his next victims.
“If you hang on with me throughout this week you will understand in your deliberations that there’s only one true answer to this question: Is he guilty of capital murder?” US prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin yesterday asked a court in Dallas.
“Your answer will be overwhelmingly ‘Yes’,” he said.
In the latest trial, Chemirmir who may never have been found had one of his victims not miraculously survived after being suffocated with a pillow in 2018, is accused of killing 87-year-old Mary Brooks on January 30, 2018.
Ms Brooks was last seen at a Walmart store in Dallas before her daughter, Ann Brooks, became concerned about why her mother was not picking up her calls.
After failing to find her on phone for a second day, Ann asked her son David Cuddihee to check on his grandmother as she lived nearby.
When David arrived at his grandmother’s house, he found the door open, lights on and the grocery she had shopped the previous day on the sink untouched.
At first, he thought his grandmother had fallen unconscious since she was unresponsive, only for medical personnel who had been called to confirm that she had died.
Unknown to the Brooks, who assumed their kin had died naturally, the police were at the time investigating a number of mysterious deaths of a number of old women whose last known location was the Walmart supermarket in the area.
One of the women, 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris, who Chemirmir was found guilty of murdering in April, was found dead at her Dallas home on March 20, 2018.
CCTV footage collected from Walmart supermarket showed Chemirmir was present at the premises at the same time Harris was there and left shortly after the 81-year-old had also left.
In the second case, Martha Williams, who was found dead in a retirement community a week before Harris was killed, was also spotted at the Walmart Supermarket on the day she disappeared.
And like in the first case, Chemirmir was also present at the supermarket.
In Brooks’ case, the serial killer parked his silver Nissan Altima next to his would-be victim’s car, followed her into the supermarket and also left the premises after the 87-year-old had left.
After her death, police managed to ping Chemirmir’s mobile phone number in the victim's house, leading them to conclude that he was indeed the serial killer they had been looking for.
Yesterday, prosecutors said they intend to use circumstantial evidence contained in the murders of Williams and Harris to show that Chemirmir also murdered Brooks.
Additionally, one of his survivors, who has since died, recounted to police in a video set to be presented before the court, how Chemirmir attacked her.
Mary Annis Bartel had, like most of Chemirmir’s victims, just arrived at her house from shopping at the serial killer’s favourite hunting ground — Walmart — when a man forced his way into her apartment and tried to smother her with a pillow.
“The minute I opened her door and saw a man wearing green rubber gloves, I knew I was in grave danger,” she told the police.
Chemirmir, thinking he had snapped the life out of Bartel, escaped from the house leaving the door open as he had always done.
Luckily one of Bartel’s friends was on her way to visit and found her friend unconscious. She survived and told the police, who were already closing in on Chemirmir, what happened.
When he was arrested the next day, police found in Chemirmir’s house a jewellery box which Bartel’s children positively identified as belonging to their mother.
Also found in the house were documents belonging to Brooks, who had been killed weeks earlier.
Chemirmir has also been formally charged with killing Marilyn Bixler, 90, Diane Delahunty, 79, Helen Lee, 82 and Mamie Miya, 93.
Investigations on the other elderly women he is accused of killing are ongoing, but prosecutors say they will present the cases in court before the end of the year.
Yet, despite the monstrous charges facing their kin, the residents of Kabunyony village describe Chemirmir as an introvert who mostly kept to himself.
A son of senior colonial-era chief Joel Chemirmir, he moved to the US in the late 90s after one of his sisters secured a visa for him.
Raised in Solai and schooled in Nakuru, Chemirmir is the eighth born in a family of nine children.
Chemirmir, however, relocated to Kabunyony after completing high school where villagers said he spent most of his time drinking in local bars before his sister came to his rescue.