Police have arrested a man wanted in connection with both the brutal murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere and a separate, near-fatal attack and rape less than a week earlier, authorities said.
Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, was taken into custody around 11 p.m. Wednesday at a train station in Bowie, Maryland, northeast of Washington, D.C., The Baltimore Banner reported, citing U.S. Marshals, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Billingsley’s capture came one day after Baltimore police named him as a suspect in the murder of LaPere, who was found dead with blunt-force injuries at her apartment building late Monday morning.
Police at a press conference Thursday said they believe she was likely killed on Friday night in a random attack. They declined to release further information on her death, citing a request from her family.
In a surprise twist, authorities revealed Thursday that they were already looking for Billingsley for a separate violent crime when LaPere was found dead.
He was being tracked by law enforcement following an attempted murder, arson and rape that occurred at a home on Sept. 19, six days prior to the discovery of LaPere’s body, police said.
He wasn’t immediately named as a suspect in that incident, however, because authorities didn’t want him to go into hiding. This attack was believed to have been isolated and the attack not random, interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said at Thursday’s presser.
“If I would have known that he was going to go and kill someone, we would have put the flier out.”
As soon as Billingsley saw the public alert for his arrest on Tuesday, he fell off authorities’ radar as expected, said Worley.
“He turned off all devices we were able to track him on,” he said, while defending his department’s decision to not alert the public about him sooner.
“I’m not going to speculate whether it could have prevented her death,” he said of LaPere.
“Hindsight is always 20/20,” he later added. “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.”
Police previously said evidence gathered during that earlier investigation connected Billingsley to LaPere’s death.
In that earlier attack, a man and woman were reportedly critically injured, and a 5-year-old treated for smoke inhalation, after a fire was set at their home.
The couple was allegedly ambushed by an armed man posing as a maintenance worker who kicked in their front door and then handcuffed and duct-taped them, The Baltimore Banner reported, citing a source with knowledge of the investigation.
The woman was allegedly raped and her neck cut. She and the man were then doused with some kind of liquid and set on fire, the Banner reported.
Worley said Thursday that Billingsley knew the victims, worked at the building, and went into their home for “a criminal reason.”
Billingsley was released on parole last October after serving several years of a 30-year sentence ― with all but 14 years suspended ― for a first-degree sex offense to which he pleaded guilty in 2015. He had separately pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in 2009 and second-degree assault in 2011, The Baltimore Banner reported. Billingsley is listed on Maryland’s sex offender registry.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has said that Billingsley never should have been out of prison.
“There’s no way in hell that he should have been on the street,” the mayor said at a press conference Tuesday. “We are tired of talking about the same people committing the same kind of crimes over and over again.”
Worley said his department is looking to see whether Billingsley may be connected to any other crimes since his release from prison in October.
Ivan Bates, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, said his office plans to seek life in prison for him without the possibility of parole.