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  4. Days before the Baltimore tech CEO was killed, the suspect was accused of committing another violent crime. Authorities 'dropped the ball' by not alerting the public sooner, a former police sergeant says.

Days before the Baltimore tech CEO was killed, the suspect was accused of committing another violent crime. Authorities 'dropped the ball' by not alerting the public sooner, a former police sergeant says.

Natalie Musumeci   

Days before the Baltimore tech CEO was killed, the suspect was accused of committing another violent crime. Authorities 'dropped the ball' by not alerting the public sooner, a former police sergeant says.
  • The man accused of killing Pava LaPere was being sought by police in the days before her death for another violent crime.
  • But authorities did not alert the public that they were looking the suspect until after the Baltimore CEO's death.

In the days before Baltimore, Maryland, tech CEO Pava LaPere was killed, police had linked the sole suspect in her death to another violent crime, but they did not alert the public that they were looking for him until after the young entrepreneur's death.

A former New York Police Department sergeant told Insider on Friday that the Baltimore Police Department "dropped the ball" by not notifying the public sooner that the suspect — a convicted sex offender with a violent criminal history — was wanted in a September 19 attempted murder, rape, and arson investigation.

"His picture should have gone out to the public," retired NYPD sergeant Joseph Giacalone said. "Someone might have seen him and called the police and been able to prevent something else from happening in the future."

The Baltimore Police Department did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Friday.

Following a days-long manhunt, Jason Billingsley, 32, was arrested by law enforcement late Wednesday in Bowie, Maryland, in connection to LaPere's killing — which investigators believe happened on September 22 — and in connection to a September 19 crime that involved an attack on a couple.

Police had been tracking the suspect since September 20

Baltimore Police Department acting commissioner Richard Worley revealed during a Thursday news conference that authorities had quickly identified Billingsley as the suspect in the September 19 incident and had been surveilling him since September 20, when a warrant was issued for his arrest.

But Billingsley evaded capture for days despite police tracking his phone, financial transactions, and social media.

On September 25, LaPere, the founder and CEO of the startup EcoMap Technologies, was found dead on the roof of the Baltimore building where the 26-year-old executive lived and worked.

According to court documents obtained by Insider, investigators say surveillance footage showed Billingsley waving LaPere down on the night of September 22 to gain access to her apartment building before her death.

A medical examiner ruled that LaPere died of strangulation and blunt-force trauma, according to the court documents.

Worley said at Thursday's news conference that police didn't initially go public in naming Billingsley as a suspect in the earlier September 19 attempted murder, arson, and rape case, in part, because "it was not a random act" and said the suspect was "familiar" with the victims in that case.

"At that time, we did not believe that he was committing random acts," Worley said of the suspect.

Worley added that as soon as investigators realized the suspect "had committed an act that seemed to be random" — referring to the killing of LaPere — authorities put out a wanted poster identifying Billingsley.

Police have said that investigators do not believe Billingsley and LaPere knew each other and haven't yet released a possible motive.

'You have got to get that information out to the public,' Giacalone said

Giacalone, an adjunct professor at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said police should have put out a wanted poster as soon as they tied the suspect to the September 19 crime, given the violent nature of the incident and the suspect's criminal background.

Billingsley received a 30-year prison sentence in 2015 with all but 14 years suspended after he pleaded guilty to a sex offense, officials have said. He was released early from prison in October 2022 on mandatory supervision, according to a spokesperson for the state's prison system — a move some, including Baltimore's mayor, have blasted.

"The police department is responsible for letting the public know when they're in danger," said Giacalone. "He's a violent felon. You have got to get that information out to the public."

Giacalone said that it should not have mattered that Baltimore investigators believed at the time that the suspect was not targeting random victims.

"The idea is, get this guy off the street as fast as you can," Giacalone said. "And sometimes putting his picture all over is something that helps.

'Hindsight's always 20/20,' Baltimore's acting police commissioner said

When asked by a reporter this week whether Baltimore police should have alerted the public sooner and put out a photo of Billingsley in the immediate aftermath of the September 19 attack, Worley said, "Hindsight's always 20/20."

"If I would have known that he was going to go and kill someone, we would have put the flier out, but we had no indication that he was committing random acts," Worley said during Thursday's press conference.

Worley continued, "There was no reason to believe that he was out committing random acts. Had we believed that, the flier would have came out to everyone on September 20 as soon as we got the warrant" for Billingsley's arrest in the September 19 case.

The police official insisted that authorities didn't make any mistakes.


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