Pava Marie LaPere was the 26-year-old CEO of a Baltimore, Maryland, tech startup named EcoMap before she was murdered on September 25, 2023.
Baltimore police announced on September 26, 2023, that they are seeking a violent felon named Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, in connection with LaPere’s murder.
Billingsley “was taken into custody in Bowie at approximately 11 p.m. on Sept. 27 by BPD’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force” and other agencies, Baltimore police announced in a news release.
“A warrant has been issued for the arrest of 32-year-old Jason Dean Billingsley, of Baltimore. He is wanted for 1st Degree Murder, Assault, Reckless Endangerment and related charges,” a news release posted on the department’s Facebook page read.
Questions immediately swirled over why Billingsley was released 16 years early from a previous attempted rape conviction, with Baltimore’s Mayor Brandon Scott saying in a news conference: “There is no way in hell that he should have been on the streets.”
LaPere was concerned about gender and racial equity in entrepreneurship, according to her social media posts. “We’re a tech company focused on making ecosystems more accessible, and having a blast while doing it,” her company’s Instagram page says.
In March 2022, LaPere wrote on Instagram, “Women are powerful. We run companies that consistently outperform. We build tech that changes the world & products that do good in the world. We host events to give others exposure, and we offer a hand to lift each other up, even when our arms are full. We work 3x as much to get 1/3 as much. But we do it.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pava LaPere Died of Blunt-Force Trauma A Few Hours After She Was Reported Missing
Baltimore police have been tight-lipped about the circumstances of LaPere’s murder, although they wrote in a news release, that, on September 25, 2023, at approximately 11:34 a.m., “officers responded to an apartment complex in the 300 block of West Franklin Street to investigate a call for service.”
In a news conference, Baltimore’s Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley indicated that police believe LaPere did not know her killer, and she died in a secured apartment building where she lived. She was discovered a few hours after she was reported missing, he said.
Officers found LaPere deceased from “blunt-force trauma,” the release says, and an anonymous officer told Daily Mail the injuries were “absolutely brutal.”
Her body was found partially clothed, according to the Baltimore Banner.
Ashley Freeman wrote on Facebook, “You think it will never be your family, friend, or even co-worker. The harsh reality is we live in a horrifically sick world, where some people’s only goal is to harm the innocent lives of others. Our family has been affected by a senseless act of violence that took the life of our beautiful, successful, and extremely intelligent Pava. She was on her way to changing the world, but someone took that from her. Please keep her parents Frank and Caroline, brother Nico, and the rest of our family in your prayers.”
2. Pava Marie LaPere Created EcoMap, Employing 30 People, in Baltimore, a City She Believed Had ‘Underlying Assets That Need to Be Awakened’
According to the Baltimore Banner, LaPere chose Baltimore for her start-up because she believed Baltimore was a city “with amazing, underlying assets that need to be awakened.”
At the time of her death, it employed 30 people, the site says.
She wrote on Instagram, “Unlike everything else in life, the view here changes slowly. Like everything else in life, it also changes rapidly every day” with a photo of the city.
The Facebook page for EcoMap Technologies says, “We make platforms that make it easy to navigate the ecosystems all around you.”
According to EcoMap, “Pava’s visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to fostering inclusivity, amplifying ecosystems, and fortifying Baltimore’s tech community set her apart as an exceptional leader, and her boundless passion for EcoMap’s mission was foundational to our success.”
In a previous post on Facebook, EcoMap Technologies wrote, “It is with profound sadness and shock that EcoMap announces the tragic and untimely passing of our beloved founder and CEO, Pava LaPere. The news has shaken us all deeply. In the coming days, we will keep our community informed about the ways we will be honoring Pava’s enduring legacy. For now, we hope you join us in keeping her family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”
In 2021, she wrote on Instagram,
Sappy team appreciation post. Two days ago my neighbor told me the police showed up for a wellness check since they hadn’t seen me in a few days. While I’m not living at the office, I’m surely spending a lot of time here… because EcoMap is no longer just an idea. We’re A Big Girl company now, with giant corporations & governments & foundations as clients and all of the chaos that comes with it.
3. Pava Marie LaPere, Who Was Named A Top Entrepreneur Under 30 in Social Impact, Wrote That ‘We Have All the Assets We Need to Create Change’
She was named among Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2023 in the social impact category, according to her LinkedIn page.
LaPere wrote on LinkedIn, “Humbled and honored to be included on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 List in the Social Impact Category among so many incredible nominees.” She added, “The entrepreneurs on this list are building amazing solutions to the world’s toughest problems. It’s a reminder that we have all the assets we need to create change – it’s just a matter of being able to access & use that information effectively.”
LaPere continued, “Grateful to be doing our part with EcoMap Technologies, Inc. to make the ecosystems around us more accessible to all.”
On Instagram, she wrote, “There may be 20 @forbesunder30 lists, but you really could put us into two: those used to posing on a red carpet, and those utterly out of their element.”
The Banner reported that LaPere was from Tucson, Arizona, but came to Baltimore to attend college at John Hopkins. Scott called LaPere a “young, talented, devoted Baltimorian.” He said he had gotten to know her over the years, and she was a person who would help anyone.
In July 2022, she wrote on Instagram, “July 2022 is the first month of ‘normal’ after two years of exhausting growth, bottomless work, and endless travel. I’ve never been happier to just have a calm month doing ‘nothing’ at home.”
4. Pava Marie LaPere Was Involved in Numerous Innovation Projects at John Hopkins University
According to her LinkedIn page, before EcoMap, LaPere founded Innov8MD, which she described as a nonprofit “dedicated to supporting student entrepreneur across the state of Maryland. Made up of leaders of the entrepreneurship programs at 15+ local colleges and universities, the Innov8MD network works to ensure student entrepreneurs have all the resources they need to build successful ventures.”
She also wrote that she was an accelerator founder who “supported JHTV’s FastForwardU division in design and implementation of two accelerator programs at Johns Hopkins University – the Spark and Fuel Accelerators. Developed curriculum and program to provide up to 15 student-run teams per semester with dedicated education, funding, and mentorship.”
LaPere wrote that she also “Founded The Hatchery, the first venture incubator for students at Johns Hopkins University. Provided mentorship, education, and resources to 10-12 student-run ventures each semester.”
She was Vice President of Professional Development for Alpha Kappa Psi – Rho Psi, according to her LinkedIn page.
She had a bachelor’s degree from John Hopkins in sociology and entrepreneurship and management, her LinkedIn page said.
In 2019, she wrote on Facebook, “You may not know it because I never update my social media, but I graduated 😉 Here’s to four years, three ventures, and too many more great things to count.”
5. Jason Dean Billingsley Was Released in an Attempted Rape Case in October 2022
In contrast to LaPere’s life of success, Billingsley has lived a life of criminality.
Scott said that Billingsley shouldn’t “have been on the streets in the first place.”
State’s Attorney Ivan Bates said in the news conference that Billingsley was freed in October 2022 after serving 14 years in a 30 year sentence for attempted rape.
“He was a repeat violent offender,” Bates said, adding that he believed the suspect was still in Baltimore.
Latoya Gray, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, wrote Heavy in an email:
Billingsley was not paroled, but was released on mandatory supervision, which requires monitoring until the entire sentence initially imposed by the court has been satisfactorily completed. The Division of Parole and Probation supervised Billingsley and recorded his adherence to the court-ordered supervision terms, including treatment.
Billingsley is a Tier 3 sex offender, a lifetime registrant, and must re-register every three months. He last registered on 6/26. He failed to register again on 9/25, which resulted in the Baltimore Police Department issuing a warrant on 9/26 and listing as non-compliant on the Sex Offender Registry. The Baltimore City Police Department also issued a warrant in connection with the LaPere case on 9/26 and a warrant on 9/20 for attempted murder, rape, arson, and other charges.
Scott declared that he was frustrated because Billingsley should “still be in prison.”
According to Fox News, Billingsley was released on parole “under the previous administration of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.”
Maryland court records show a lengthy criminal history for Billingsley that includes multiple charges of assault.
“This individual will kill and he will rape,” Worley said in the news conference.
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