What We Know About Jason Billingsley, Suspect In The Murder Of Tech Star Pava LaPere

On Monday, September 25, 2023, 26-year-old tech entrepreneur Pava LaPere was found dead in her Baltimore, Maryland apartment building with signs of blunt force trauma to the head. The next day, 32-year-old Baltimore resident Jason Dean Billingsley was named a suspect in the case and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to the Baltimore Police Department. Sometime around midnight on the evening of Wednesday, September 27, U.S. Marshalls tracked Billingsley down at a train station in Bowie, about 45 minutes south of Baltimore, per WBALTV-11.

LaPere was reported missing the same day her body was discovered, The New York Times reported. Before Billingsley was in custody, police said in a press conference that they didn't think he and LaPere knew each other. But acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said of the building where she was found, "It was a secured building where someone had to allow an individual in the building." It's unclear how authorities linked Billingsley to LaPere's murder.

In another press conference, Worley said that before being linked to LaPere's death, Billingsley was also wanted for a September 19, 2023 alleged rape, attempted murder, and arson incident. The suspect was considered armed and dangerous, and there was a $6,000 reward offered for information leading to his arrest. In this case, Worley said "all indications are that this was not a random act of violence." LaPere appears to have been murdered three days later. "It seems like she was probably murdered on Friday night, and she wasn't recovered until they reported her missing ... on Monday," Worley said. Baltimore police also said they were investigating Billingsley in connection with other crimes.

A history of violence

In 2009, Jason Billingsley pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and received two years of supervised probation. According to CBS News, Billingsley violated the terms of that probation and was subsequently convicted of second-degree assault in a separate case. He served two years in prison. By 2013, Billingsley was once more in custody on rape charges to which he pleaded guilty in 2015.

That same year, Billingsley received a 30-year prison sentence, 16 of which were suspended, with 16 months already served, and five years supervised probation. In 2022, Billingsley was not paroled but put "on mandatory supervision as required by statute," according to a Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesperson.

The registered sex offender was released from prison in October 2022. Baltimore's WBAL TV said Billingsley had failed to update the sex offender registry the month LaPere died.

A controversial release

During the press conference before Jason Billingsley was in custody, acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley warned the public that based on the suspect's criminal record, "This individual will kill, and he will rape. He will do anything he can to cause harm." Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott added, "Quite frankly, [Billingsley] shouldn't have been out on the streets in the first place. We have to make sure that folks are held accountable in every single way because we are tired of talking about the same people, committing the same kind of crimes over and over and over again."

Commenting on the Pava LaPere case, D.C., Homicide Detective Ted Williams called for an "intensive investigation" into Jason Billingsley's 2022 release, speaking with Fox News Digital. Without a doubt, Williams added, "Somebody or bodies in Baltimore have what I defined as blood on their hands by permitting this violent criminal to be released and back on the streets of Baltimore."

NBC News reported Billingsley's mother, Scarlett, was in contact with her son via text and encouraged him to surrender but she didn't know where he was. She saw her son the same day LaPere was killed and said he had a gun she thought he wanted to try and sell, she said. She was unaware if LaPere and her son knew each other.

LaPere was well known in Baltimore

Pava LaPere's death came as a blow to the city, where she was well-known in the tech community. Just months before her death, the businesswoman — co-founder and CEO of Baltimore-based EcoMap Technologies — was included in Forbes' "30 under 30" list for social impact. In response to her death, her company, EcoMap Technologies, a data curation service, released a Facebook statement: "The circumstances surrounding Pava's death are deeply distressing, and our deepest condolences are with her family, friends and loved ones during this incredibly devastating time. Pava was not only the visionary force behind EcoMap but was also a deeply compassionate and dedicated leader."

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who said he'd met LaPere on multiple occasions, commented on how she was always happy to help people and said, "To have that light cut short by someone who has no care about anything other than harming people is something that should sit deep in the stomachs of all Baltimoreans tonight."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).