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Victim of brutal Baltimore attack sues Jason Billingsley, companies that hired the violent offender

Woman sues man, property owner after brutal attack, murder of tech CEO Pava LaPere
Woman sues man, property owner after brutal attack, murder of tech CEO Pava LaPere 02:49

BALTIMORE -- A Baltimore woman who survived a brutal attack last year is suing Jason Billingsley, the man charged with her assault and the later killing of tech CEO Pava LaPere, and the property company that hired the ex-convict as a maintenance worker. 

April Hurley was bound, sexually assaulted, had her throat slashed, and was set on fire along with another man on September 19, 2023 in her West Baltimore home, according to charging documents. Both of them survived after they were pulled from a basement window by neighbors.

The next day, an arrest warrant was issued for Jason Billingsley. Hurley told police the maintenance worker attacked her and another man in the home before torturing them. An unhurt child was on another floor of the home. 

Six days later, Pava LaPere, CEO of tech company EcoMap, was found beaten to death at her Mount Vernon apartment building. As news spread of the high-profile killing, police publically identified Billingsley as a suspect. After a dayslong manhunt, he was finally caught in Bowie. 

"This could have been prevented" 

Hurley is suing Billingsley along with Eden's Homes, the property management company, and Property Pals, the company that owned the home, for compensatory damages. 

High-profile civil rights attorney William "Billy" Murphy Jr., who is representing Hurley, said the complaint against the companies includes negligent hiring, premises liability and breach of lease. 

Hurley joined her attorneys in a press conference Monday morning. With slash marks visible on her neck, Hurley tearfully condemned the companies. 

(Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

"The fact that I'm sitting here in front of you guys today is honestly a miracle," Hurley said tearfully in a press conference Monday. "Sometimes it's still unbelievable that I'm here. Jason Billingsley literally tried to take my life, and this could have been prevented. And he would have never had the chance if these people - my former landlord, and former property manager did not hire him." 

Billingsley is a convicted felon and registered sex offender who was released in 2022 on parole.

He pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2015 and was sentenced to 30 years, with all but 14 suspended. He only served seven, though, being released in October 2022 because he earned enough diminution credits.

"Even a cursory background check would have prevented my clients from enduring such a harrowing ordeal," an attorney representing Hurley said. "In inadequately vetting this candidate they granted access to a violent criminal who inflicted unimaginable harm on Baltimore City residents." 

LaPere's parents lobbied in Annapolis for the Pava Marie LaPere Act, which would do away with the good behavior or diminution credits for people convicted of first-degree rape and most violent sex crimes, but it was not passed in the 2024 legislative session. 

Billingsley is being held without bail and will be tried on August 26.

Police response questioned

Murphy, Hurley's attorney, said they are not suing the Baltimore Police Department, but question why police did not immediately alert the public to the heinous crime in West Baltimore, and why Hurley's and LaPere's cases were treated so differently.

Police initially reported the Sept. 19 incident as an "arson investigation" in which two victims were found suffering from "multiple injuries."  

"There's some questions that have to be asked about why this incident was treated differently than the terrible assault that happened and the death of Pava LaPere," Murphy said. "These incidents happened less than a mile away from each other. But Miss Hurley's incident happened on the other side of MLK Boulevard. Why was there no mention?"

Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said last year they didn't immediately release information about the rape and arson investigation because it wasn't deemed as a "random attack."

"He had access to the (home). He was allowed in the apartment. So there was no reason to believe that he was out committing random acts," he said. "Had we believed that the flyer would have gone out to everyone on Sept. 20 as soon as we got the warrant." 

Worley refused last year to speculate that if police had notified the public sooner after the arson LaPere's murder may have been avoided.

In a Feb. 6 statement to the Baltimore Banner, a BPD spokesperson said the department "established oversight and renewed protocols into when and how suspect information is released publicly," following these incidents.  

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