The founder and chief executive of a Baltimore tech start-up who was acclaimed as a rising entrepreneur in the city was found dead on Monday, the police said, prompting a manhunt on Tuesday for a suspect considered to be armed and dangerous.
The entrepreneur, Pava LaPere, 26, who founded EcoMap Technologies, a company that curates data for free platforms, was found dead at around 11:30 a.m. at an apartment complex in the 300 block of West Franklin Street by officers who detected “signs of blunt-force trauma,” the Baltimore Police Department said in a statement.
The authorities said that they had received a missing-person call shortly beforehand.
On Tuesday, the police said they had identified Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, of Baltimore, a sex offender who was released from prison last fall, as the suspect in Ms. LaPere’s killing, and potentially in other cases. The department did not say how it had determined Mr. Billingsley to be the suspect and did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Tuesday night.
Richard Worley, the acting police commissioner for the department, warned residents at a news conference on Tuesday that Mr. Billingsley “will kill, and he will rape. He will do anything he can to cause harm.”
The killing has rattled Baltimore, particularly its business community, which had heralded Ms. LaPere as a promising businesswoman with deep connections to the city. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Ms. LaPere had skipped other tech hubs like San Francisco and instead remained in Baltimore after graduation to grow her venture, raising over $4 million, building a team of about 30 people and serving clients like Meta and The Aspen Institute.
Earlier this year, she was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social impact.
Brandon Scott, the mayor of Baltimore, said at the news conference that he had known Ms. LaPere for several years and described her as a “talented, devoted Baltimorean” who would “help anybody who she would see.”
“To have that light cut short by someone who has no care about anything other than harming people is something that should sit deep in the stomachs of all Baltimoreans tonight,” Mr. Scott said.
Mr. Billingsley pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in 2009 and second-degree assault in 2011, according to court records. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to a sex offense and was sentenced to 30 years in prison with all but 14 years suspended. He was released in October 2022, according to the Baltimore County Department of Corrections. A spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said that Mr. Billingsley had not been paroled but was released “on mandatory supervision as required by statute.”
Mr. Billingsley is listed as a registered sex offender in records with the Baltimore County Department of Corrections.
Mayor Scott said that Mr. Billingsley “shouldn’t have been out on the streets in the first place.”
EcoMap said in a statement on Facebook that news of Ms. LaPere’s death had “shaken us all deeply.”
“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 company said. “Pava was not only the visionary force behind EcoMap but was also a deeply compassionate and dedicated leader.”
In a 2018 interview with Johns Hopkins University, Ms. LaPere’s pride in EcoMap was evident as she described how she had created the company as a way to centralize resources for entrepreneurs.
“If you love the problem you are solving, none of it feels like work,” she said in the interview. “I know it’s cliché, but it’s the truth. If you love the problem, you can throw your heart and energy into your venture without a second thought, and that’s what makes the ordeal of entrepreneurship worth it.”
The post Baltimore Police Search for Suspect in Killing of Tech C.E.O. appeared first on New York Times.