In the late hours of Wednesday, authorities arrested Jason Billingsley at a train station in Bowie, Prince George’s County, in connection to the murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere. SWAT officers carried out the arrest operation without incident, confirmed Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley.
LaPere, the acclaimed founder and CEO of EcoMap Technologies, was discovered dead in her apartment building earlier this week. She was recently honored in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” class of 2023 for social impact. Her death sent shockwaves through the community, which held a vigil to commemorate her on Wednesday.
The details surrounding her murder remain murky. Worley mentioned no signs of forced entry in her secured apartment and could not confirm any link between Billingsley and LaPere. Preliminary investigations suggest LaPere might have been killed on Friday, but her absence was only noted by Sunday.
Billingsley, who was already on the police’s radar for his alleged involvement in an attempted murder, arson, and rape on September 19, was designated as armed and dangerous. With his arrest, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott stated, “We will not tolerate such heinous acts, and perpetrators will be removed from Baltimore streets.”
Police employed an extensive search strategy, using phone tracking, monitoring financial transactions, and surveillance on known addresses. Worley recalled a close brush with Billingsley, where authorities tracked him to a mere 88-yard distance before losing him, potentially due to a news conference that may have alerted him.
Billingsley’s criminal history is extensive. He had served a prison sentence for a first-degree sex offense and had been released early due to Maryland’s diminution credits system, where inmates can earn reduced sentences for good behavior. This release has been termed a “systematic failure” by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, shedding light on potential weaknesses in the criminal justice system. Responding to Billingsley’s early release, Mayor Scott remarked, “Rapists shouldn’t be let out early, period.”
Given the high-profile nature of LaPere’s murder, city officials were questioned about the special attention this case received. Commissioner Worley emphasized that while evidence in this case surfaced faster, the force remains committed to resolving over 200 other homicides reported this year. Mayor Scott echoed this sentiment, praising the dedication of Baltimore’s detectives.