26-year-old tech CEO found dead in Baltimore

The Baltimore Police Department has announced an arrest warrant for a suspect wanted for the murder of Pava LaPere, the 26-year-old CEO of startup EcoMap Technologies, who was found dead in a downtown Baltimore apartment Monday with signs of blunt-force trauma to her head.

Police are looking for 32-year-old Jason Dean Billingsley, Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said during a news conference Tuesday.

Officers responded to a call for service at an apartment complex in the 300 block of West Franklin Street at around 11:34 a.m. Monday, according to Baltimore police. Upon arriving, the officers found LaPere with severe injuries to her head. Police have not released any further information on her death.

The medical examiner’s office took possession of the body, and an examination is pending, police said.

Billingsley is wanted for first-degree murder, assault, reckless endangerment and additional charges. He should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.

“This individual will kill and he will rape. He will do anything he can to cause harm,” Worley warned.

Baltimore police said they do not believe LaPere and Billingsley knew each other.

The police did not say how they identified Billingsley as a suspect.

In a message to Billingsley, Worley urged him to turn himself in. “We will find you, so I would ask you to turn yourself in to any officer, any police station,” he said.

A startup founder with ties to Baltimore

EcoMap was founded by LaPere and Sherrod Davis while LaPere was a 21-year-old college student at Johns Hopkins, according to EcoMap’s website. With just over 30 employees, the startup is part of the artificial intelligence wave. It sells AI tools, including a customizable chatbot, that aim to make clients’ information easier to access and customer communications more seamless, the company says.

The company confirmed LaPere’s passing to CNN.

“With profound sadness and shock, EcoMap announces the tragic and untimely passing of our beloved Founder and CEO, Pava LaPere,” EcoMap said in a statement. “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.”

In August, the company said it had reached nearly $8 million in financing.

Earlier this year, LaPere was named on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in the social impact category.

“Pava was not only the visionary force behind EcoMap but was also a deeply compassionate and dedicated leader. Her untiring commitment to our company, to Baltimore, to amplifying the critical work of ecosystems across the country, and to building a deeply inclusive culture as a leader, friend, and partner set a standard for leadership, and her legacy will live on through the work we continue to do,” the company said.

The CEO of Baltimore-based company Fearless, Delali Dzirasa, served as a mentor to LaPere and remembers her as being a determined leader who was highly regarded across the community.

“There is no person on planet Earth that could tell Pava that she couldn’t do something,” Dzirasa said. “Even though she was a force, she always made space for other people,” he told CNN.