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Suspect Jason Billingsley arrested in murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere

Suspect Jason Billingsley arrested in murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere
Suspect Jason Billingsley arrested in murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere 03:39

BALTIMORE -- Jason Billingsley, the man suspected in the murder of 26-year-old tech CEO Pava LaPere and an arson and rape last week, was arrested Wednesday night, Baltimore police said. 

Billingsley, a convicted felon and registered sex offender who was released last October, was taken into custody around 11 p.m. at a train station in Bowie by U.S. Marshals in collaboration with several local law enforcement agencies, Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said.

Billingsley is charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder, first- and second degree rape and first-degree arson in the Edmondson Avenue incident. 

Full Press Conference: Police provide new details on Jason Billingsley arrest 38:22

He is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and other offenses in LaPere's death.

The acting commissioner said Billingsley, 32, eluded capture multiple times on a warrant for a West Baltimore arson last week. 

While the arson is believed to have been targeted, it's still unclear whether LaPere's death was a random act of violence. 

Billingsley had no known previous connections to LaPere, but Worley said he is not believed to have forced entry into her secured apartment building in Mount Vernon. 

Officers responded around 11:30 a.m. Monday to an apartment building on the 300 block of West Franklin Street for a call for service, where LaPere's body was found on the roof of the building with signs of blunt-force trauma, police said.    

Investigators said a missing persons call had been made a short time before the discovery. Worley said investigators believe she may have been killed on Friday.

Police said further details in LaPere's death won't be disclosed at the request of her family.  

LaPere cofounded EcoMap Technologies, a company that says it digitizes ecosystems with its proprietary technology.

Her work caught national attention, landing her on Forbes' 30 Under 30 list in the social impact category, as well as the Baltimore 40 Under 40 list.

Pava LaPere, cofounder and CEO of EcoMap Technologies  LinkedIn

Family, friends describe murdered Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere as a 'visionary ahead of her time'

LaPere's family thanked law enforcement and expressed relief and anguish in a statement Thursday:

"We appreciate the tireless efforts of the Baltimore Police Department, and their law enforcement partners, throughout the course of this investigation and apprehension of the suspect. We're relieved to know he can no longer hurt other innocent victims. While this doesn't change that Baltimore lost one of its most passionate, influential fans, our efforts remain focused on remembering and celebrating Pava Marie – her life, successes, and legacy."

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said he was fortunate to have met Pava.

"She was a young, innovative leader who worked tirelessly to create a brighter future and who chose to call Baltimore home. Pava's indelible legacy lives on in her family, friends, colleagues, and the entire Baltimore tech community. Nothing can diminish her light, life, and leadership. I'm grateful to our law enforcement officials for the swift apprehension of the suspect in this vicious murder and other heinous acts. Their bravery and professionalism were vital to finding him so he can be held to account for his alleged crimes. Today I met with Pava's family and expressed our devastation at her tragic loss and our commitment to delivering justice for her. As we grieve, I stand resolute with an entire state to make sure Pava's work and mission to create a more loving and connected community continues."  

Manhunt Began with an Arson

The search began for Billingsley after he was identified as a suspect in a fire that left three injured on September 19 in the 800 block of Edmondson Avenue. 

It was initially reported as an arson, but Worley confirmed Thursday that a rape investigation was underway in the incident. 

Worley said Billingsley knew the victims of the arson and rape and worked in that building. He was identified as the suspect and an arrest warrant was filed "within hours" of the fire, Worley said.

A man and woman were critically injured, and a 5-year-old child was also hospitalized with minor injuries, fire officials said. The adults were pulled to safety from the basement window by neighbors who said the man appeared to have been bound.

"He had handcuffs, and his leg was bleeding, and his feet were taped," a neighbor told WJZ last Tuesday. 

Baltimore Police were working with federal and local authorities to find Billingsley before LaPere was killed, Worley said. 

Shortly before police publicly identified Billingsley as the suspect in LaPere's death on Tuesday, authorities were "within 88 meters of catching the suspect," Worley said, but he eluded their capture.   

Billingsley's Criminal History 

According to court records, Billingsley at 18 pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in 2009.

He was ultimately given two years of supervised probation but violated the terms and was convicted in a second-degree assault case in 2011, where he served a two-year prison sentence. 

Jason Billingsley, 32 Baltimore Police

After being released, Billingsley was convicted of a rape attempt a mere three months later. 

A judge handed down a 30-year sentence with an expected 2043 release date. However 16 years of the sentence was suspended, and he was given five years of supervised probation. 

He was paroled in October 2022, according to Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates. 

"It is very clear that this individual poses a substantial danger that he had been noncompliant and was clearly violating the terms of his supervision after being released," Scott said, "And that alone should be enough to make sure that we keep him off the streets."

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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