A 26-year-old tech CEO featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list was reportedly found dead on the roof of her Baltimore apartment building on Monday with signs of blunt-force trauma.
Citing sources with knowledge of the investigation, the Baltimore Banner reported that police found Pava LaPere on the roof of the West Franklin apartment complex around 11:30 a.m. Police say that the Johns Hopkins University graduate, who was reported missing earlier that day, showed signs of “blunt-force trauma,” but that the Medical Examiner’s Office is working to determine an exact cause of death.
It was not immediately clear why LaPere, the founder of EcoMap Technologies, which assembles data for free platforms, was on the roof. But the grisly discovery spurred a manhunt on Tuesday for Jason Dean Billingsley, a 32-year-old who police described as “armed and dangerous.” It’s not clear if LaPere knew Billingsley, who is wanted on several charges, including first-degree murder, assault, and reckless endangerment. Police announced a $6,000 reward on Wednesday for information leading to his arrest.
“We implore residents to be aware of your surroundings at all times. This individual will kill, and he will rape, he will do anything he can to cause harm,” Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said at a press conference this week.
Worley also spoke directly to Billingsley, saying that “every single police officer in Baltimore City, the state of Maryland, as well as the U.S. Marshals are looking for you.”
Police said Billingsley has a violent criminal history, including arrests in 2009, 2011, and 2013 related to sex offenses, second-degree assault charges, and robbery. The Maryland sex offender registry also shows that Billingsley was convicted of a first-degree sex offense in 2015 and released in October 2022 on parole.
The Baltimore Police Department also revealed on Wednesday that Billingsley is wanted in connection with a Sept. 19 attempted murder, arson, and rape. The crime occurred about 20 minutes away from LaPere’s murder.
“Multiple warrants have been issued for Billingsley and detectives continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners in apprehending him,” police said in a press release. “Additionally, detectives are now reviewing all cases since October, 2022, to the present day in order to determine any other connections.”
Billingsley’s mother, Scarlett, told NBC News on Wednesday that she had urged her son to surrender—but she does not know where he is hiding. She said she last saw her son on Monday, when he came over for a few minutes and showed her a gun.
“I’m very sorry if he did it,” she added. “I won’t know until I see some evidence if he did it. Where is the truth at—show me some evidence.”
Police then confirmed they had nabbed Billingsley Wednesday evening and taken him into custody just after 11:10 p.m. in the city of Bowie. A statement from the U.S. Marshals said Billingsley was “arrested in a collaborative effort between the U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force and state and local law enforcement,” but provided no other details on how he was caught.
Sources told WBFF however that he was “tracked by law enforcement to the MARC Train Station on Laurel-Bowie Road in Bowie, Prince George's County,” and taken into custody without incident. More details are expected to be provided on Thursday.
Earlier, as police continued to search for Billingsley, those closest to LaPere spoke out about the tech CEO.
“Pava was a very young, talented, devoted Baltimorean, someone who I had gotten the opportunity to know over the past few years who would help anybody she would see,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a press conference, adding that her death was “senseless, horrific, and deeply tragic.” “To have that life cut short by someone who has no care about anything other than harming people is something that should sit deep in the stomach of all Baltimoreans tonight and our city.”
In 2018, LaPere launched EcoMap Technologies to provide “platforms that enable people to navigate any ecosystem, from small business communities to entire industries,” her LinkedIn profile states. The company currently has at least 30 employees and raised $8 million across three investment rounds in August.
“It is with profound sadness and shock that EcoMap announces the tragic and untimely passing of our beloved founder and CEO,” the company said in a Tuesday 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,” the firm continued, adding that LaPere was committed to “building a deeply inclusive culture as a leader.”
The Forbes profile for LaPere said the EcoMap’s clients include Meta, the Aspen Institute, the T. Rowe Price Foundation, and the WXR Fund. She was named on the Forbes “30 Under 30 - Social Impact” list.
“I’m proud that I’ve been able to build a company that both makes money and does good in the world,” LaPere told the Baltimore Business Journal last year. “Increasing access to information is so important to me, and sometimes I can’t believe we get paid to do this at scale.”