Parents of murdered tech CEO Pava LaPere call for change in law on convicted rapists

The parents of murdered tech CEO Pava LaPere have called for a change in the law on convicted rapists.

Ms LaPere, 26, was found dead on the rooftop of her Baltimore apartment complex in September last year, three days after she was killed.

Her body was found near a brick, believed to be the murder weapon, and a pair of red shoes thought to be hers.

Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, was arrested in connection with Ms LaPere’s death, two days after her body was found.

Following his arrest, officials revealed he was already being tracked by investigators prior to Ms LaPere’s death, with police believing he was responsible for a rape, arson, and attempted murder days earlier that left two adults and a child injured.

Investigators also found he had pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2015 and was sentenced to 30 years, but 16 years were suspended – meaning he only had to serve 14.

He only served seven, though, being released in October 2022 because he earned enough diminution credits for good behaviour, something that “should have never have happened”, Mayor Brandon Scott said at the time.

Ms LaPere’s parents, Frank and Caroline LaPere, have since sought to echo Mayor Scott’s words, testifying before Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday to push for a law that would bar diminution credits for those convicted of first-degree rape and most violent sex crimes.

Pava LaPere was the CEO of tech company EcoMaps Technologies

(Facebook/Pava LaPere)

The couple said bill HB 301, also known as the Pava Marie LaPere Act, will help to ensure that no other family will experience what they have gone through.

“Let us work together as a community and as a legislature,” Frank LaPere said. “A mother should never have to nurse herself back to health after a horrific act of repeat violence, a sibling should not lose his best friend, and a father should kiss his daughter good night and try not to cry himself to sleep through avoidable loss.”

“We cannot allow the system that failed Pava to continue,” he added. “She is physically gone from the world, her vision and dreams will still live on.”

Ms LaPere was the CEO of tech company EcoMaps Technologies, which is described as a custom platform builder for companies, according to its website.

The 26-year-old was a rising star in Baltimore’s tech scene and was featured on Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30” list for the social impact she was making on the industry.

“Pava did very well in her short life, so now it’s time for someone else to carry the torches that she carried,” her mother said on Tuesday. “One of them was for equity. The other was for justice.”

HB 301 is still in the very early stages of the legislative process and has a long way to go before it can be signed into law.

If passed as it is now, it would go into effect in October.

Jason Dean Billingsley has previously been convicted for assault and sex offence charges

(Baltimore Police Department)

However, the bill has come up against some criticism, with critics arguing that it does not address the issue of reoffending and that it only delays violent offenders from being released.

Nonetheless, Maryland senate president Bill Ferguson said on Tuesday that he believes there will be enough support to change the law.

“I think, particularly for first-degree rape situations, there is very good reason to have extra eyes on the diminution credits and make sure that something like what happened this past year can’t happen again,” Ferguson said.

Another hearing has not yet been scheduled.

In September, the Baltimore district attorney said his office intends to seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Billingsley.

“My wish is that we can give the family and community a sense of closure,” Commissioner Worley said. “We’re going to put this violent repeat criminal offender in jail, where he belongs. Let’s work together and make sure he stays there.”

Billingsley is due for a hearing on Zoom in March, according to online court records.

Authorities said they are not aware of any connections between the suspect and Ms LaPere.

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