An “armed” and “extremely dangerous” suspect is on the run after a successful 26-year-old tech executive was found brutally murdered in her apartment in Baltimore.
On Monday, she was found dead from apparent signs of “blunt-force trauma” inside her apartment in the 300 block of West Franklin Street, police said.
Baltimore Police said that a missing persons call had been placed for the victim, leading officers to her home where she was found at around 11.34am that morning.
Jason Dean Billingsley, a 32-year-old with prior convictions for assault and sex offences, has been named as a suspect in her murder.
He is now wanted on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree assault, sex offence and robbery, Baltimore Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Commissioner Worley warned that the suspect should be “considered armed and dangerous”.
“This individual will kill and he will rape. He will do anything he can to cause harm. So, please be aware of your surroundings,” he said.
The police commissioner also issued a warning directly to the suspected killer.
“If you’re out there watching, hopefully you are, every single police officer in Baltimore City, the state of Maryland as well as the US Marshals are looking for you,” he said.
“We will find you. So, I would ask you to turn yourself in to any officer, any police station, because we will take you into custody eventually, and then we will turn it over to the state’s attorney to prosecute you to the fullest. So, please turn yourself in.”
It is currently unclear how police have identified Billingsley as the suspect.
Now, a manhunt is under way, with Baltimore PD working with the Warrant Apprehension Taskforce and the US Marshals’ Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force to track him down.
Billingsley has previous arrests in 2013, 2011 and 2009 on multiple charges including sex offences, second-degree assault and robbery.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in 2009 and second-degree assault in 2011, court records show.
In 2015, Mr Billingsley was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 16 years suspended, after he pleaded guilty to a first-degree sex offence, according to court records.
However, the Maryland sex offender registry shows that he was released from prison last October.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said Billingsley should have never been released.
“There is no way in hell that he should have been out on the street,” Mr Scott said. “When the police go out and do their job, as they did in this case ... and the state’s attorney goes out and does their work, gets the conviction, the conviction should be the conviction.”
LaPere’s family released a statement paying tribute to the slain tech CEO following her death.
“She was driven, creative, hard-working and relentless in her efforts, with her wonderful team at EcoMap Technologies,” her family said.
“Pava made an impact in every endeavour she undertook and on every life she touched. She will be forever missed as a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and loyal friend.”
Just hours before her murder, LaPere’s company EcoMap Technologies had announced that she would appear as a speaker at a forum in Pennsylvania next week.
EcoMap Technologies has now released a statement about the loss of their CEO.
“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,” the statement read.
“Pava was not only the visionary force behind EcoMap but was also a deeply compassionate and dedicated leader.”