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Community vigil held in Mount Vernon for Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere

Community vigil held in Mount Vernon for Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere
Community vigil held in Mount Vernon for Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere 03:03

BALTIMORE -- A remembrance ceremony was held at the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon for murdered tech CEO Pava LaPere. 

Employees of EcoMap Technologies, family and friends gathered to celebrate the 26-year-old's life on Wednesday evening. 

"Thank you all for being here and for loving our daughter and for taking care of her," Frank LaPere, the victim's father, said. "We're going to take her away from Baltimore, but her presence will never leave here."

LaPere was found dead with signs of blunt force trauma late Monday morning at an apartment complex on West Franklin Street near Eutaw Street. 

LaPere had been reported missing just hours before her body was found. 

LaPere co-founded EcoMap, a company that says it digitizes ecosystems with its proprietary technology.

One day later, investigators named Jason Billingsley, 32, as the prime suspect in the murder investigation. He is wanted for first-degree murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and additional charges in LaPere's death.

Billingsley, a convicted felon and sex offender, was paroled in October 2022. 

Court records show that Billingsley was given a 30-year prison sentence for committing an attempted rape in 2013, however, 16 years of that sentence was suspended. 

Sherrod Davis, the co-founder and chief operating officer of EcoMap, said LaPere would continue to make her mark on the city.

"The world is looking at us and saying, 'Nope. This is what happens in Baltimore,' but I'm telling you, she saw things that no one else saw, and she saw something in Baltimore," Davis said. "And as the seeds of division are sewn, we stand more united than ever as a city, as a community, as a team, and as an ecosystem because we know—Pava's got our back."  

LaPere's family sent WJZ this statement:

"Let us tell you a little bit about our Pava Marie…she made an impact on every person she touched. We have lost a deeply loved daughter, sister and friend who could understand all of us in a way that no other human being could. Pava had a unique vantage into our lives, and an intelligence to understand that each human is unique and irreplaceable."

"In life's darkest moments, Pava's council and reflection gave all of us a perspective, and the will to persevere despite the odds. We remain in complete shock and can barely comprehend Pava's death. It will be in life's quiet moments, after the dust settles, that the full reality of this tragedy will resonate. We should all carry Pava's pragmatic positivity forward."

"Whether the Ecomap team, City of Baltimore, or the worldwide entrepreneurial community, the loss is all of ours. Pava dedicated her life, her focus, her talent, and dizzying work ethic to our collective enrichment. After coming to Johns Hopkins University for her education, Pava made Baltimore her home and sought to cultivate her vision for the potential of this home. She loved Baltimore - its people, its potential, its art, its history and architecture. There was no bigger ambassador for all that is great about the city."

"Pava had a penchant for taking charge of a situation and deftly maneuvering people, resources and problems forward, towards better outcomes. She could find possibilities in others, in situations, and in dilemmas that few could. She built a thriving community with her colleagues and friends based on addressing crucial issues and mobilizing everyone. Pava was a visionary ahead of her time."

"We love and miss you, Pava. We find comfort in many loving memories and knowing that the impact you made during your short time here will ripple for generations to come."

WJZ's Cristina Mendez will have more from the vigil at 11 p.m. 

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